Peace Education in Iraqi Kurdistan Schools
: An Analysis of Human Rights and History Education Curriculum

  • Maamoon Abdulsamad Alsayid Mohammed

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Reforming the education system to reflect a new vision of society is part of many peacebuilding efforts in post-conflict societies. Accordingly, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is currently implementing a wide range of reforms in the education system in Iraqi Kurdistan. This research is a qualitative study of the KRG’s efforts to implement a peace education curriculum. It uses critical discourse analysis to investigate the Human Rights Education (HRE) textbooks content for Grades 5 and 7 (ages 11 and 13) and the History Education (HE) textbooks content for Grades 5, 6, 7 and 8 (age 11 to 14). The study also focuses on the policy and strategies of the Ministry of Education (ME) in implementing these subjects; the teaching methods used; and how effectively the knowledge, values and skills involved have been disseminated.

    The approach adopted by the ME to peace education is top down and experiences significant resistance from teachers and parents. Moreover, the curriculum reforms lacked consideration of the hidden and null curricula. The research highlights how HRE contents are primarily focused on cognitive development of awareness of rights and responsibilities rather than acquiring social skills and a critical approach, and that the content was not contextualised to the reality of Iraqi Kurdistan. Furthermore, the research found that the HE curriculum focuses on the history of Iraq, Kurdistan and Islamic history and presents a message that glorifies war; it is not open to different narratives or interpretations and does not foster critical debate or an enquiry-based approach. The curriculum contents included concepts and statements that appear to instigate violence and build divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims.

    Despite the achievements of the ME in improving the education system there are many challenges such as weak infrastructure, lack of professional development and resistance through the wider cultural context. The methods of teaching are what Freire terms the ‘banking system’, authoritarian and not learner-centred, which largely reflects the social fabric of Kurdish society. The research identified many challenges facing teachers including the level of their commitment, skills, specialization and capacity-building. However, it also found positive support for HRE among students and teachers.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorMarwan Darweish (Supervisor) & Alan Hunter (Supervisor)

    Cite this