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Rampant Corruption Cited in Iraq's Education System - 2004-07-26

Iraq's minister of education says the country's education system is so corrupt that there is little he can do about it, although he would like to do a lot.

Corruption throughout Iraq's educational system is so rampant that Interim Minister of Education Sami al-Mudhaffar, says he would like to get rid of just about everyone involved in it.

This was his response when asked what he would like to change.

"Oh God. I will change everything," he saids. "I will change the whole system, the whole education system of Iraq. The leaders of the present education system. I would do it really because they are corrupted people. They are very corrupted people. Most of the school headmasters are corrupted, most of them. But I can not do anything because I have to have replacements."

And, he says he does not have replacements.

The minister said the corruption exists at every level of the education system, including students or parents who pay teachers for grades, teachers who pay administrators for supplies and favors, administrators who pay director-generals for favors and advancement.

He said the system for obtaining school supplies is corrupt because contractors overprice nearly everything.

"For example, if you want to buy something, instead of paying 5,000 dinars you could get it for 25,000 dinars, and the difference is 20,000 dinars, which has been taken by the people who are corrupted," he explained. "Then you go higher and higher and you reach into the millions of dinars and millions of dollars. That is corruption."

The frustrated minister says he has spoken with administrators and teachers throughout the system, telling them corruption is not acceptable. But he says it is so widespread that he holds little hope much that anything can be done to stop it.

Mr. al-Mudhaffar says it will likely take decades to rid the system of corruption.

The minister says he is not sure whether Saddam Hussein corrupted Iraq or if Iraq corrupted Saddam Hussein. But he says that in order to lead a corrupt society the leader must also be corrupt.

But the minister of education insists he is not corrupt.