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Reforming the education system in Iraq

Behind all the headline-making news in Iraq -- news that indicates the Americans are deep in a Vietnam-style quagmire -- work is going on to rebuild and create the institutions necessary for a democratic society. Opinion Journal has a good article on the rebuilding of the education system by the senior adviser on education for the Coalition Provisional Authority.

You can imagine how difficult something like this is. Saddam's regime had imposed its stamp throughout the schools in order to indoctrinate the population. Certainly you can get rid of his nonsense, but what do you replace them with? Don't you run the risk of trading one form of indoctrination with another? Education -- messing with kids' heads -- is a sensitive issue for everyone. I was relieved when I read this:

The White House had specifically told my colleagues and me to concentrate on getting the children, teachers and textbooks back in the classrooms. We were wisely admonished by White House officials to offer our best advice when asked by Iraqis, but to avoid directly imposing extensive reforms on the Iraqi schools. We followed this suggested course. Thus, we helped remove totalitarian teachings from the classrooms, helped the schools and ministry resume operations, and kept our advisory office small. Now Iraqis themselves are restructuring the ministry organization, considering decentralization plans, and holding forums on curriculum reform and the future of Iraq's school system.
I'm very excited by these types of stories. The thought of a free and democratic Arab country gives me a lot of hope for the future of the Middle East.

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