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Iraqi state education increasingly religious

The state curriculum in Iraq has long been subject to sectarian, political and religious pressure, but education quality is suffering now more than ever.
Iraqi Shi'ite students attend classes at an Islamic school in Sadr City in Baghdad May 5, 2014. Iraq is now gripped by its worst violence since the heights of its 2005-2008 sectarian war, and Sunni Islamist insurgents who target Shi'ites have been regaining ground in the country over the past year. But despite the instability, daily life continues in poor Shi'ite neighbourhoods of Baghdad such as Al-Fdhiliya and Sadr City - a sprawling slum marred by poor infrastructure and overcrowding.  REUTERS/Ahmed Jada

BAGHDAD — Lamia Hassan is a science teacher at a primary school in Babil. She explains natural phenomena in religious terms, such as “the science of God” and “the ability of the creator” when teaching topics such as rain and man’s journey to the moon. She told Al-Monitor that she works in accordance with “school directives, which focus on the role of religion in the school curriculum.”

According to Lamia, “Clerics randomly visit the school and give their thoughts about the need to guide the students to abide by the teachings of Islam.” As one result of the religious influence on education in Iraq, the school has segregated boys and girls since 2003. Before 2003, when Saddam Hussein’s regime fell, school segregation was less common. Clerics considered Saddam’s regime secular.

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