COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - MARCH 30, 2004
Contact: Dallas Lawrence
Baghdad Educational Symposium Begins
More than 250 Iraqi education, business, civic, political and religious
leaders gathered today in Baghdad for the first day of a two day symposium on
the future direction of Iraq's educational system. The symposium continues the
nationwide dialogue on education reform and curriculum begun by the Ministry of
Education in 2003 and will specifically focus on the critical issue of reforming
According to Dr. Mowaffak Al-Rubaie, one of four members of the Iraqi Governing
Council attending the symposium, "It is easy to rebuild infrastructure, the
harder task is to rebuild the person to take his place in a free Iraq."
According to IGC member Dr. Ahmad Chalabi, Iraq's new educational system and
curriculum must "teach individuals respect for humanity." "Changing Iraq's
curriculum is a holy duty," concluded Chalabi
During the symposium, Dr. Ala'din Alwan, the Iraqi Minister of Education,
presented a new paper on the future process and framework for curriculum reform.
According to the paper, "curriculum reform is considered one of the basic
pillars of improving the quality of education" in Iraq. A translated copy of the
curriculum reform working paper is enclosed below.
Following the presentation, the symposium's 250 attendees broke into working
groups to discuss the proposals laid out in the curriculum paper. During the
symposium's second day, attendees will report back on their working group
discussions and make recommendations on how best to move forward with the much
March 30, 2004
Ministry of Education, Iraq
Second National Seminar On Strategies and Curriculum Reform
of the New Education System
Proposals for the General Framework and Recommended Methods for Education
Curriculum Reform and Development Project in Iraq
In the past few months, a study undertaken by the Ministry of Education on the
current state of education identified the problems and challenges the education
sector faces. Of these problems, the most important are those related to the
education curriculum and its characteristics under the former regime. As a
result of the extreme centralization of the system itself, the curriculum can be
described as being static, harsh, and highly politicized in terms of the
elements and goals of the curriculum. In design, there is a lack of
compatibility between the curriculum and the needs of the workforce. The current
system must also face the challenges of correcting outdated teaching methods,
negative learning, rote memorization without deep comprehension, and its
distance from modern instructional methods that have been proven effective on
the world stage.
In response to these challenges, the Ministry of Education has approved a new
direction for the education policy which aims at improving the overall quality
of education. This new policy will allow Iraq to catch up to the level of the
high performing countries in the area of education. With new instructional
methods for primary and secondary teachers, we will improve the skills,
abilities, and position of this group. Curriculum reform is considered one of
the basic pillars of improving the quality of education. With significant reform
we will be able to achieve a better fulfillment of the needs of the workforce
and of continuous development. The Ministry of Education has adopted, since the
beginning of the rebuilding efforts in 2003, the following principles in terms
of reviewing and modernizing the curriculum:
One:- The education reform process must be based on objective study and
evaluation of the current situation, and a precise diagnosis of the problems of
the current system and the obstacles facing reform and rebuilding.
Two:- In order to guarantee the participation of all sectors of Iraqi society in
the reform process, the responsibility of reforming the education system must
extend beyond the Ministry of Education and its institutions.
Three:- All decisions concerning reform of the curriculum must be strictly Iraqi
and in line with Iraqi values and culture.
With this third principle, we must mention that the curriculum development
process is part of a comprehensive education reform movement that aims at a
proper building of the Iraqi personality. This would include enlightened
religious upbringing, the establishment of and appreciation for the values of
democracy, free speech, human rights, justice, equality, and tolerance. It would
also discourage sectarianism and racism. The new curriculum will emphasize the
role of education in continuous development and become responsive to the needs
of the workforce. It will embrace the scientific method, encourage critical
thinking, and adopt modern instructional methods that have been proven
effective. The new curriculum will also address adult education, and a program
for erasing illiteracy. All of these elements will help us make full use of our
human resources and ultimately support the national economy.
Curriculum Reform and Development: Why Now?
Today, the Iraqi education sector faces big challenges as a result of a general
decline in education quality during the last two decades and the loss of many
educated people. With the end of the policies of the previous regime and the
entry of Iraq into a new era, the time has come to work on pulling the education
system from the hole it has fallen into. This will require the complete
rebuilding of its institutions and structures There is a dire need to reform the
curriculum for the following reasons:
* The change in the political and economic system, and its effect
on social life and the job market.
* The politicization of education, which requires filtering out
political pressure, propaganda, and violent tendencies from the curriculum.
* The decline of the education system and the high rates of
dropouts and repetition.
* The weakness and lower quality of graduates.
* A new openness to international experiences and instructional
methods after a long period of being closed off.
What Do We Want: Education Reform or Curriculum Development?
Education reform encompasses many basic issues that require agreement on the
national level. Developing the philosophy of education and setting the goals of
education are crucial aspects of this reform. Reform efforts must also focus on
improving the quality, preparation, and training of elementary and secondary
educators. Finance and management of the education system are areas that must
also be addressed. These issues have greatly influenced the approved education
Part of the curriculum reform and development will require the review of
textbooks and the topics in them. Textbooks must be modernized and reoriented to
respond better to both the needs of the student learner and to the needs of
national development. Textbook review and improvement will help Iraq to catch up
to higher performing countries in the area of education.
During this critical period of Iraqi history, we believe that rebuilding the
education system requires comprehensive education reform. This results in
developing the education curriculum and modernizing it, which is a task that
requires a comprehensive review of all elements of the system. Identifying an
education philosophy, establishing a curriculum, reviewing textbook topics are
instrumental to this process. In addition, we must redirect education policy,
identify our goals, improve education management, and strengthen our finances.
What do we want to Accomplish as a Result of Change and Development?
* Students to obtain the knowledge, abilities, and skills that
enable them to obtain information from multiple sources and to apply knowledge
through analysis and logical thinking.
* A curriculum that supports and is responsive to the needs of the
workforce and aids in the comprehensive development and transformation of Iraq
into a knowledge-based economy.
* An expansion of the concept of curriculum to be broader than the
textbook alone: to include knowledge, trends, and skills that the student must
acquire inside and outside school.
* Students who are able to master modern fields, especially in the
areas of science, math, languages, and information and communication
* The general inclusions of modern values and principles,
especially those related to citizenship such as democracy, justice, equality,
tolerance, and social cohesion.
What are the Main Issues that must be considered?
* The depth and breadth of the curriculum.
* The balance in the content of the curriculum (i.e. the topics
and the details).
* The cohesion and balance of various subjects, the result of
which is a comprehensive and complete education program.
* The relationship between curriculum content, tradition, culture,
and national beliefs.
* The linkage between the needs of the workforce and the needs of
* The relationship between a knowledge society and globalization.
The General Framework of the Curriculum Development Project
The Essential Steps
1. To conduct a complete analysis of the current state of the education sector
identify the direction of education policy for both short and long term
2. To familiarize ourselves with examples of curriculum development from other
the world and to prepare proposals regarding the method of curriculum reform
3. To conduct a national seminar on curriculum reform and development
4. To establish a national commission to oversee curriculum development project,
educational goals and work parameters, and to follow up on implementation of the
project and to prepare a draft of the general guidelines of the new curriculum
presented to the education council. (Members of this commission are chosen from
among the educators, scholars, university professors, political and social
individuals, who have an interest in education and teaching).
5. To create specialized work groups from among university faculty, education
specialists, and practitioners, who have experience and knowledge of curriculum
preparation and evaluation.
6. To specify the sources that will be used during reform, including prior
new developments in education and teaching, and the results of research
7. To conduct a detailed analysis of the curriculum to identify areas of
strength. Areas in need of reform will require a plan for the new curriculum
8. To prepare broad outlines for the curriculum at various developmental stages
childhood, elementary, secondary, and vocational)* that include the
scientific, and psychological aspects, as well as the general goals of the
for every stage. (This will also include the major elements of curriculum
addition to the education methods, tools, activities, learning materials, and
measurements that will be used to oversee the implementation and evaluation of
* The goals of each education level encompass what knowledge and skills the
student is expected to master.
9. To put the new curriculum and topics in place and to make the necessary
(These suggestions will come from content area specialists who have a high
level of skill, long experience, and a good reputation, and who will be chosen
specialized work groups, according to the broad guidelines of the various
10. To review the proposed draft curriculum by the specialized groups, to make
revisions to it and to present it in its final form to the education commission,
so that it may be studied and approved. In this stage the following matters must
* The compatibility of the content with the specified goals.
* The content must depend on the means of developing analytical
thinking and interpretive abilities, encouraging self motivated learning, and
rejecting rote learning and dry lecturing.
* Taking into consideration the situation of the student and
focusing on the problems that arise from his circumstances.
* It needs to provide descriptive material such as explanatory
graphs and tables.
* The material is written to the appropriate level for the
11. To create specialized teams for writing, from among the specialists,
teachers for each core subject and grade level addressed by the general
the curriculum document .
12. To prepare effective teaching tools designed to ensure comprehensive
coverage of all
the topics in the guidelines.
13. To prepare the necessary requirements for each textbook, including the
requirements, instructions and conditions required of the printers.
14. To prepare the necessary training programs in the new curriculum for all
and secondary teachers