Who are these people with whom we are at war? It is difficult to generalize about 17 million people, but here, based on interviews with Arab experts, is a primer on Iraq -- the country and its people. Look for it daily in the Today section.
In recent decades illiteracy in Iraq has dropped from 99 percent to less than 50 percent. That's less than in most Arab countries. The government was aggressive about it: illiterates between 15 and 45 had to attend adult classes, some 1,800 anti-literacy centers were established, TV offered daily literacy lessons, and "floating schools" took the program to villages.
Six years of education is mandatory for Iraqis. Education is free through the Ph.D. level.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein sees the government's hold on children as the way to promote his goals. He said in 1977, "Teach the student to object to his parents if he hears them discussing state secrets. . . . Teach him to object, with respect, to either of his parents should he discover them wasting the state's wealth, which he should let them know is dearer to him than his own. Also teach the child to beware of the foreigner."