UNESCO Iraq Office has been working on rehabilitating the Education Sector in Iraq since 2004 after the damage caused by the previous wars and the imposed economic sanctions.
The office aims, through all its initiatives and programmes, to provide technical assistance to the Iraqi government in order to enhance the sector by rehabilitating the educational institutions, building the human, institutional and administrative capacities at all levels and formulating plans and policies for better planning for the future of Education in Iraq.
During 1980’s, the Iraqi education system was recognized as one of the most developed systems in the Arab states. After two and a half decades of wars, unstable political conditions and an ever-deteriorating security situation, the Iraqi education system has been witnessing serious and critical shortcomings.
The urgent needs of the sector were identified by two major assessments:
- The Joint Emergency Needs Assessment - World Bank / United Nations in 2003.
- The in-depth assessment undertaken by UNESCO in 2004.
The assessments revealed the need to reconstruct and rehabilitate educational institutions including providing new equipment, furniture and teaching/learning materials, build the capacities of teachers, educational and administrative staff, review educational system policy and management, review curriculum, improve the educational status of the most disadvantaged illiterate and semi-literate population groups and improve the technical and vocational and higher education sub-sectors.
Since 2004, UNESCO, together with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education, has developed several projects with the aim of providing necessary support as well as a response to meeting the most urgent and persistent needs of the education sector. UNESCO has been implementing projects under the Education Sector Outcome Team (the group of UN agencies working on Education in Iraq) of which it is the Deputy Coordinator.
One of the most lately embarked on topics by UNESCO Iraq Office is “Enhancing the Right to Education in Iraq” through the organization of international conferences and discussion seminars to look into the challenges and risks faced by the Iraqi students and academics in their daily lives and in their access to educational facilities. In this regard, UNESCO Iraq Office organized an international conference in Paris during 30 October to 1 November 2008 under the auspices of Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, Special UNESCO Envoy for Basic and Higher Education. Her Highness urged UNESCO and the related bodies to formulate educational projects based on the conference recommendations in order to explore necessary funding for the years 2009-2010.