Cover: Initiatives to Improve Quality of Education in the Kurdistan Region — Iraq

Initiatives to Improve Quality of Education in the Kurdistan Region — Iraq

Administration, School Monitoring, Private School Policies, and Teacher Training

Published Feb 26, 2016

by Georges Vernez, Shelly Culbertson, Louay Constant, Rita T. Karam


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Research Questions

  1. How can the Ministry of Education (MoE) be structured to support ongoing operations, enable new initiatives to aid in strategic policymaking, and strengthen accountability?
  2. How can a new school quality assurance system be designed to help the MoE prioritize its efforts and help schools undertake self-evaluation and improvement plans?
  3. How can the private school sector be expanded and effectively monitored?
  4. What does an assessment of teacher training suggest?

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) aims to restructure its Ministry of Education, develop a framework and implementation plan for a school quality assurance system, review the effectiveness of its monitoring and support of private schools, and assess the content and quality of in-service teacher training. To help the KRG in their efforts, RAND researchers interviewed Ministry of Education staff and reviewed the current situation; reviewed relevant literature on organization design, school monitoring, and private schools; conducted in-depth case studies of ministries of education, school monitoring, and private schools in other countries; analyzed data on KRG teachers; provided analysis and recommendations; and developed implementation guidelines.

Key Findings

The Existing MoE Organizational Structure Does Not Optimally Support Ongoing Management Efforts and New Initiatives.

  • There are an excessive number of senior managers; these managers report to the minister, creating excessive demands relating to day-to-day management of the organization.
  • This creates a high level of centralization and weak coordination across directorates.
  • A new division of responsibilities would better promote coordination and strategy.

The Existing MoE System for Monitoring School Performance is Ineffective.

  • The MoE collects only limited data.
  • The quality of those data is insufficient.
  • Teachers and principals have only limited to access to the data that are collected, and the MoE does not have systematic structures in place to analyze and use data.
  • Plans to use the data for school self-improvement are lacking.

Several Techniques Are Available to Help Monitor the Quality and Encourage the Growth of Private Schools.

  • Multiple quantitative and qualitative indicators can be measured annually.
  • Schools can perform self-evaluations and develop annual improvement plans.
  • Schools can be evaluated by outside inspectors.
  • There are several options for incentivizing or supporting private school growth.

Teacher Training Needs Improvement.

  • Teachers expressed a need for training in curriculum subject matter content and lesson plans.
  • They also complained about classroom conditions, i.e., large class sizes and insufficient class time.
  • Many also were teaching outside their area of specialization but were not eligible to take training in those areas.


  • The MoE should be restructured, with the number of people reporting to the minister minimized.
  • A new position of vice minister should be created, to relieve the minister from dealing with routine, day-to-day management.
  • Some former management functions should be combined, and some new management functions should be created.
  • A new quality assurance system should use a new system of indicators, school self-evaluations, and school self-improvement plans. The system would measure both quantitative indicators, such as student achievement, and qualitative indicators, such as teaching quality. Schools would be monitored and supported according to performance.
  • Private schools should be monitored in coordination with the public school quality assurance plan. The KRG has several options with which to support private schools, if it is decided that this is a goal.
  • Regular assessment of teacher and principal training needs should be the basis for developing annual in-service training plans. Part-time in-service trainers should be replaced with professional full-time trainers. Priority should be given to curricula in sciences, math, and languages. Instructional practices appropriate to large classrooms should be used.

Research conducted by

This report was prepared by RAND Education for the Kurdistan Region — Iraq (KRI).

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