By Shatha Khalil
Corruption has been rampant in all Iraqi government institutions and bodies since the occupation of the country in 2003, where ministries have become a source of funding for influential political parties as the corruption has been spread in the most important ministries , the corruption in the Ministries of Education and Higher Education is a clear indication that future generations are unable to build a strong and secure state, and will have the greatest share of ignorance, poverty and deprivation.
The education system in Iraq is run by the Ministries of Education and Higher Education. According to the UNESCO report, Iraq was in the period before the first Gulf War, in 1991 had an educational system that was one of the best educational systems in the region and has won two prizes from the organization and Iraq become a country free of illiteracy, after a wide campaign to eradicate illiteracy which was begun in the seventies of the last century, where the proportion of primary school enrollment was by nearly 100%, and a high proportion of those who were able to read and write, but the governments that came after the occupation have neglected the education intentionally to serve the interests of Regional and global forces where they view of Iraq’s progress as a threat to the chances of hegemony.
The introduction of the so-called amendments that led to a fundamental change in the contents of Iraqi curricula for sectarian reasons, and the emergence of nearly 80% of the Iraqi schools (15,000 schools) need to be reformed and support for its health facilities, as well as the lack of libraries and scientific laboratories in these schools.
The worst phenomenon was mud schools, which are a stark example of the collapse of the education system in Iraq, Ministry of Education presented a statistical report (2011) which showed that the number of mud schools in Iraq is more than (1000) schools, the largest is in the provinces of Dhi Qar, Basra, Amara and Muthanna , Al-Qadissiya and Najaf, which has about 15,000 students and about 7000 teachers serve in it . Of course, this figure has been increasing steadily since 2003, and it has become worse, especially in the governorates of Babel and Dhi Qar where mud schools are widespread in them , with obvious disability in educational buildings, and often mud schools are built at the request of the people of remote areas, after the people provide a piece of land for the establishment of a school of mud, or cane or palm trees, and here we ask the Minister: Where are the allocations of the ministry of “billions” allocated from the public budgets of the state in the light of misery and deterioration of our educational institutions and our educational system ?!
Students in mud schools suffer from extreme summer heat and extreme cold during winter. There are no means of heating and no protection against weather fluctuations. Wind or rain blowing is a source of fear for students and teachers. Most schools in rural Iraq lack the necessary health conditions and basic services such as water and electricity , in addition to the lack of modern teaching methods, it is ironic that these schools adopt the dual attendance where they always receive two shifts of students , , in a country floating on a lake of oil and countless riches, but illiterate numbers have reached about five Millions of people, while students are learning in an unhealthy and polluting school environment undesired for children representing misery and degradation occur in an era in which nations take the lead in development and they are working to generalize the use of modern technology instead of books and notebooks . The countries have linked the students of one class to a network with all teachers and those in charge of the educational process. The information is transmitted in a fraction of a second, at a time when Iraq’s students are receiving their education in clay and reed schools, as well as huts schools.
The infrastructure of education in Babylon is completely destroyed , as the head of Babylon province council Ali al-Karawi stressed “The local government has made a grave mistake when it decided to demolish some schools in the hope of rebuilding and renovating them in a modern way,” , referring to the urgent need for more than 500 schools.
The financial and administrative corruption in the Iraqi Ministry of Education is the phenomenon that is not denied by anyone today, it is rampant and rooted in all joints and institutions, as the level of education in Iraq began to fall to dangerous degrees, and the talk of files of corruption has become to be managed by the Minister, as a number of files have proved the involvement of the minister of Education “Mohammed Iqbal” in several corruption deals, including with a Lebanese company.
According to a source close to the ministry, who preferred not to be named, confirmed that a Lebanese company called “Dar Garnett” has been invited by the Iraqi ministry of education to print books of the English language curriculum for the academic year (2018), the quantity is about (24) title of the book, the amount is ( 38 ) billion Iraqi Dinar. The source added that “there are Iraqi companies with potential assessed by the committees of the Ministry of Education, prevented from referral and were directly made without opening a tender, that is exclusive monopoly transfer to the Lebanese company, thus depriving Iraqi companies that employ an Iraqi worker from competition, It was submitted on the same platform and the same titles and with amount that the offer from the first company reached (29) billion dinars, while the offer from the second company amounted (30) billion dinars.
Despite the fact that there are cases of waste of public money estimated at (10) billion dinars, but the Minister of Education and in cooperation with the formed committee to evaluate prices by administrative affairs continued to insist to submit the tender of books to the Lebanese company (Dar Garnett), the Minister entrusted with money and the improvement of the level of education and the development of the educational system and the level of schools in a manner appropriate to the country of civilizations and wealth betrayed the trusteeship where he deliberately ignored the transmission of official books of Garnett to security authorities that check the status of foreign companies, and that “the assessment of the Special Committee explained that there is a waste of public money estimated at ten billions of Iraqi dinars, in addition to several paragraphs he expressed reservations about it.
Why such a large amount is wasted uncontrollably in a way of favoritism and endearment to a foreign company not subject to taxes ?!
While the fight against Iraqi companies and the imposition of taxes and deprive the Iraqi labor force of employment opportunities, and does any country in the world allow Iraqi companies to invest on their land and without taxes?!
Is it collusion or lack of understanding or participation in crimes and spoils?!
According to the National Intelligence Service, “Dar Garnett” has no known branch in Iraq, and its capital does not exceed (2500) pounds, or about (3500) dollars.
The document bears the title: notification, stating that “Your book No. 4931, on 27/2/2017, we would like to inform you of the following:
• When checking the database of foreign companies registered in Iraq, we did not find the existence of the address or the headquarters of the branch (Dar Garnett for educational publishing).
• Following the search and investigation of the British , “Lebanese” company referred to in the first paragraph above, it was founded in Britain on 1/3/1991, a private company with limited liability, classified as a small companies competent in the field of printing books run by Safa Hafez Al Khoury, Karim Al Khayyat and Nadia Al Khayyat, owned by Tahseen Al Khayyat, he is the owner of the Lebanese television channel , Al-Jadid TV, according to the source.
The corruption in the ministry of higher education is no less than in the ministry of education, as the member of the parliamentary agriculture committee, Shuroq al-Abayji, admitted that the high corruption in the Ministry of Higher Education is irreparable because it means destroying the country’s scientific infrastructure, as the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine , from which generations have graduated and they were running important sectors of the country, suffer from rampant corruption that extended to the lands used for experimentation and animal breeding, which are now distributed as residential land.
Not only that, it has been moved from its original location, which was built since 1952 and built on world standards, and more than (640) acres of modern buildings and equipped with all the requirements and equipment, despite this, six thousand students have been transferred to the Jadiriyah complex with caravans that can not be considered as the lecture halls, and poses a risk to the lives and health of students, and the equipments of these faculties have been moved irresponsibly, many of them have been lost and others have been damaged under the rooftops.
Also , medical colleges whose curricula have been changed without the existence of scientific bases or standards as there are also 27 medical colleges in the medical group. There is an urgent need to investigate what is going on there, especially with regard to medical curricula. This corruption that has reached education can not be tolerated because this means ending education in the country.
observers and teachers confirmed that the reasons for the deterioration of the reality of higher education in Iraq are the dominance of political parties over the higher education system, the government neglect, then to move towards the private education sector and the decisions of the ministry led to the sever deterioration in the quality of education in Iraq .
According to Dr. Siham al-Shughairi, a professor at the University of Baghdad saying that the description of education as “deterioration” is much less than what it has reached. We are witnessing a collapse of the higher education system in Iraq, stressing that the political elite has destroyed both primary and university education alike, through many actions, the first is the lack of interest in public contexts and standards of primary and higher education, and the most important issue is that it did not develop institutions capable of containing schools or taking care of universities.
She added that the most serious thing is that she went to primary and civil education and support parties, and did not care for government education, which constitutes of the public class and the majority who is unable to pay those amounts, stressing that attention is limited to the private universities, adding that the most serious issue is the current political conflict since the occupation of Iraq in 2003, and disregard for those basic requirements, such as education, water, electricity and others, and its victim is the Iraqi people.
She criticized the Education Committee in the parliament by saying, “It is an empty committee, because it only demands things that do not improve education, such as the claim of the third stage , and the establishment of admission instructions in postgraduate studies under specific conditions such as acceptance of 100 persons from a particular body where each party has a certain percentage and was distributed by parties and loyalties noting that the Ministry of Education has extended the studies to include anybody or everybody and thus constitute abuse of competencies, pointing out “Education protects the society from a lot of dangers such as the invasion of drugs, violations and other social pests , and explained that the Poor selection of teachers is a cause of failure in the education , and the things which break the back of higher education are the private lessons. ”
We conclude from this that those who are in charge for the education system, especially in the Ministry of Education, has not contributed to building a clean and healthy school environment since the occupation of the country and they did not manage to build the schools itself at a time when millions of dollars go into the pockets of the corrupt and the sons of future get nothing. In the past years, huge sums of money have been allocated to the education sector, estimated at tens of billions but there has been no noticeable development in school buildings or in furniture and laboratories because of the deliberate in assigning the building of these schools and developing them to the corrupt individuals who take over most of these funds under the clear complicity of the government that it did not pursue them.
The future of Iraq is dark because of the state of education that has been systematically destroyed to serve the interests of those who want to control it from regional and global forces. Education in Iraq needs a revolution against corruption and corrupters to promote it again, and the history will record who is hurting science and education in Iraq to be a stain on his forehead.
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies