Iraq's education system, once reputed to be one of the best in the Middle East, is now in a state of collapse after the US invasion in 2003.

Dr Omar Al-Kubaisi, left, and Hala Al-Saraf
Thousands of schools across the country were bombed by US warplanes during the invasion. They remain in a state of disrepair despite pledges of reconstruction and rehabilitation. Violence and bloodshed has threatened to shutdown Iraq's education system altogether. UN reports estimate that only 30 per cent of Iraq's 3.5 million students are attending schools.

School buildings in conflict-ridden areas have been

Dr Akeel Al-Kazwini, left, and Dr Hassan Bedair
misused as combat posts by warring factions. Some Iraqi universities are under the control of militias and death squads. Hundreds of academics have been kidnapped. Thousands more have fled the country to neighbouring Jordan and Syria.

In this special one hour episode from Amman, in front of an audience, Inside Iraq looks at the current state of despair of the Iraqi education system and the grave implications for its future.

Professor Abdulsattar Al-Ali, left, and Professor Mazin Abdulhamid

Our guests this week are:

Dr Omar Al-Kubaisi, an Iraqi cardiologist, Hala Al-Saraf, a health policy advisor from Columbia University, Dr Akeel Al-Kazwini from the German-Jordanian University, Dr Hassan Bedair, an associate professor at the University of Petra, Professor Abdulsattar Al-Ali from the University of Technology in Iraq, and Professor Mazin Abdulhamid, a former dean of engineering in Iraq.

Watch part one of this episode on Youtube

Watch part two of this episode on Youtube

Watch part three of this episode on Youtube

Watch part four of this episode on Youtube

This episode of Inside Iraq aired from Friday, December 7, 2007

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