Iraqi culture and its education system were key targets of the 2003 war and Occupation. Several neo-con voices had earlier characterised Iraqi brains and knowledge as the main danger, to their project. Hence Iraqi academics in all disciplines were targeted alongside groups like the military pilots, whose liquidation is ascribed to revenge for the Iraq-Iran war.
Scientists' liquidation went also well beyond the lists obtained by the occupiers through the UN inspections during the sanction years 1990-2003, of contributors to the so called Weapons of Mass Destruction, and were obviously meant to cripple the country permanently.
Destruction of general education, starting from elementary schools, has many strands, ending in total fragmentation, for which Iraqi patriots must seek novel solutions. The state system of primary, secondary vocational, and tertiary sectors is in disarray, plagued by two widespread ills: phantom teachers, buildings, equipment and officials whose salaries appropriated by local militias; and phoney nominal teaching, grades and qualifications due to collapse of inspection and standards, and any consistent national authority.
That leads to school-hate and its irrelevance of schools to youngsters and parents, and for expansion of illiteracy to most of the new age cohorts, which in the Iraqi population pyramid now mean more than one million school age children each year. This is now complicated by the three million displaced Iraqis inside the country, whose even shelter, drinking water and food are problem, let alone schooling.
Middle income Iraqis who have remained in their original districts, rather than Opting for diaspora or being internally displaced, are relying on private or on religiously based education. These are causes for cultural fragmentation and threaten to further fray the social fabric of the country. That is caused by the variety of syllabi, languages and eduction authorities. Home-based education, relying on direct teaching by educated parents and relatives, using standard textbooks, remains the main source of hope for youngsters.
So is wider use of the Internet, and of satellite Arabic and other education TV channels, and linking to reliable examination systems in the Arab world or International systems.
Mundher Al Adhami is a Researcher on cognitive and professional development at Kings College London; Iraqi living in London.