Clashing Narratives and Identities in Iraq's School Curriculum 2015 - 2022

Prof. Ofra Bengio published a report on IMPACT-se analyzing school textbooks in Iraq to reveal how the state's education system contributes to the construction of its contemporary identities.

"This IMPACT-se report offers a comprehensive insight into 71 textbooks from the Republic of Iraq’s national school curriculum, dated 2015-2022, for grades 1-12. The study focuses on humanities subjects, particularly history, Arabic language, Islamic Education, and social studies. Our findings showed that textbooks continue the largely conservative ideas which originate from Saddam Hussein’s rule (1979-2003) and earlier, only partially reflecting modern-day developments in Iraq since the 2003 war.

The research explores attitudes toward Iraq’s diversity of ethnic and religious groups, and the framing of historical events pre- and post- the toppling of the 1958 Iraqi monarchy. The study addresses the complex depictions of violent jihad and martyrdom, terrorism, and gender roles. The curriculum presents a muted approach to regional and global issues, with notable exceptions including negative descriptions of the United States in a historical context. The portrayal of Jews, Judaism and Israel occupies a central focus, and reflects a deep animosity towards these topics."