Education for Iraq and the Dinar

Education reform is a challenge for every country. We have our own issues with education in the U.S. – lack of funding, under performance in math and science, under paid teachers, etc. However, the burden of education reform in the U.S. does not compare to Iraq. How is education reform related to the Iraqi dinar? A strong educational system in Iraq will reduce violence by diminishing the youth’s appeal of joining insurgent groups, helping close the stark gap between the rich and poor and in the future, allow Iraq to be a power player in the global economy. Education will provide stability and strength in Iraq, which are both necessary for a strong dinar.

Iraq used to have one of the best educational systems in the Middle East. Before the Gulf War, literacy was above 90% and the dropout rate was the lowest in the Middle East. In addition, Iraq placed a huge importance on education, as evidenced by spending 20% of its budget on education. It is no coincidence that the Iraqi dinar was at its peak value during this time. However, since the 1980’s, the Iraqi educational system has been declining and has essentially crashed amidst all the wars, educational neglect by Saddam Hussein and instability in the region to name a few factors. Bottom line, Iraq’s educational system was at the forefront of its region and it most regain its form to shape the future of Iraq and the dinar.

Education is a strong component in deterring Iraq’s youth from joining violent groups that threaten the stability of the country and hamper the dinar. The illiteracy rate has soared to 39% in the rural population and the drop out and displacement rate of students are at its all time highs. As more and more kids slip through the cracks, more and more kids are subject to recruitment by violent insurgent and terrorist groups. The youth that drop out of school might see a future with these groups, while education becomes an insignificant priority. The most troubling concern is that as more and more children are recruited into these violent groups, the effects last generations. A strong educational system will provide hope and a promising future for the youth of Iraq and diminish the appeal of joining factious groups. At the least, a stable school system will reduce the number of kids on the streets exposed to these rebel cliques that only bring instability and uncertainty to Iraq.

There really is no middle class in Iraq – the class the drives an economy and country forward. The consequences of the lack of a middle class is shown in the current political impasse. The political and cultural elite that control the government don’t have the urgency of a stable government that serves the masses who are suffering the most. Education is the great equalizer and will spark a rise in the middle class and enable them to participate and contribute to the government by responding to the needs of the general public. When the rich and upper class control the government and there is no middle class, it is laughable to think that the government will meet the needs and interests of the rest of the country. The current political vacuum should serve as a warning and motivate Iraq to support a robust educational system, much like the years before the Gulf War when the Iraqi dinar was at its peak value.

An educated population is necessary for Iraq to become an influential player in the global economy. Iraq is already a player in the global economy because of its oil reserves. However, Iraq must not become complacent and must invest in education to become one of the most powerful players. Iraq has to play catch up when it comes to the technology and medical industries that will dominate the future. While the oil industry will support Iraq’s economy for a considerable time, it must invest in education so that Iraq can diversify its industries. Oil in Iraq, while abundant, is still a finite resource. With education, the possibilities are endless, who knows what new discoveries a brilliant scientist will make or what new successful businesses will be formed. The common ground is that it is all rooted in the same foundation – education.

The potential results of a strong educational system are tremendous: peace, a more informed general public, more job opportunities and more technological advancements. These are all voids in Iraq that can be addressed by educational reform. Again, the golden years of the Iraqi educational system were also the golden years of the Iraqi dinar, that is not a coincidence.