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Coalition plots new teaching regime

Iraq

IRAQI opposition groups have drawn up plans to remove the influence of the ruling Ba'ath party from the school curriculum if Saddam Hussein is deposed.

The proposals, agreed at a recent conference in London, are part of a package of measures aimed at the "de-ideologisation of the Ba'athist legacy from Iraqi society".

An estimated two million Iraqis are members of the Ba'ath party - the majority of them government employees, including teachers.

Teacher recruitment is one area that needs a radical overhaul, say the proposals' authors. Training colleges have "been subverted to act as an arm of surveillance for the regime. Teachers' organisations have become interlinked with the state security system".

The report addresses the problem of what to do should the regime fall during the middle of the academic year.

"Time obviously does not allow for a thorough re-writing of the curriculum," so it would be necessary to continue with subjects such as Arabic grammar, language, maths and science.

More "ideologically-loaded subjects" such as history and political geography would require "short-term remedial action" before they could continue to be taught.

In the long term, the Iraqi opposition report says, the "national education course", which propagates Ba'ath nationalism, should be abolished.

The purely Arab nationalist version of history taught under Saddam should be reconsidered and the history of Iraq's non-Arab ethnic groups should be included.

Science teaching methods should be revised and "updated to become on a par with the rest of the world", the report says. This will require a switch of emphasis from teaching science history and towards its practical application.

The authors refer to the process of de-Nazification undergone by teachers in Germany at the end of the Second World War.

"We recommend a special task force be established immediately to develop guidelines and make recommendations of this type suitable to conditions in Iraq."

One area of particular concern and requiring urgent action is illiteracy.

In southern Iraq since the 1991 Gulf war, the report says,"an entire generation of Iraqi children have received little or no education. This is true at all levels, but particularly at the elementary one".

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