6 Achieve universal primary education

Where are we?

Iraqi schoolchildren. Photo by UNDP Iraq 2012

The youth literacy rate reflects the growth of primary education over the previous decade. As a measure of the effectiveness of the primary education system, it is often seen as a proxy measure of social progress and economic achievement. Iraq has made steady progress enrolling children in primary education. The percentage of enrollment rose from 76.3% in 2000 to  89.1% in 2011. This is expected to increase to 95% by 2015, but disparities continue to persist amongst males and females, as well as between urban and rural areas. The current enrollment rate for secondary education remains low at 48.6%.

At 95.5%, Iraq is very close to reaching its 100% target for indicator 2.2, the percentage of children who complete primary education. Interestingly enough, while the governorate of Missan has the lowest enrollment rate for primary education, it has the highest completion rate out of all the governorates. This indicator measures an education system’s success in retaining students from one grade to the next as well as its internal efficiency. 

Iraq’s literacy rate in persons ages 15-24 is 85.5% Sulaymaniyah enjoys a high rate of 94.4% while Missan, at the lowest end of the spectrum, remains at 72%. The unemployment rate amongst this age group is the highest. Education generally reduces the likelihood of being underemployed. The underemployment rate among those with a diploma is 9% while this rate increases to 20% among those with no formal education. Strengthening Iraq’s human capital and productivity will continue to be a considerable challenge for policymakers.[1]

[1] LB Factsheet IKN


UNDP's work in Iraq

  • Photo by UNDP Iraq 2013


Targets for MDG2
  1. Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
    • Net enrolment ratio in primary education
    • Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
    • Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds, women and men