Quiet Progress in Iraqi Schools

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This Saturday, 20,000 Iraqi high school teachers will begin U.S. supervised teacher training. We thought that we'd take this opportunity to point out two great articles about the reconstruction of Iraqi schools, both of which make use of the accounts of highly placed U.S. officials on the ground.

EducationNews.org has an excellent interview with Dr. Hind Rassam Culhane, the senior advisor to the RISE project in Iraq. Dr. Culhane describes the extent to which schools had decayed in Iraq. Low pay of teachers $5 a month lowered teacher morale so low that teachers would eat, drink, and smoke in class, and accept bribes from parents in order to supplement their otherwise insufficient incomes. The U.S. and its coalition partners have since raised salaries to $200-$300 a month.

Along the same lines, Bill Evers had a piece in the Wall Street Journal last month describing his six months spent as an advisor in Iraq. He paints an optimistic picture, noting that Iraqi students and adults are grateful and eager to get on with fixing the schools. Furthermore, Evers reports that "Iraq is not Afghanistan" and that there is both a strong tradition of education and well-established value that girls are just as entitled to education as boys.