The NYT’s Sabrina Tavernise reports on increasing school enrollment in Iraq, and determines that it is being driven primarily by Iraq’s economic prosperity since the United States toppled the corrupt regime of Saddam Hussein:
Despite the violence that has plagued Iraq since the American occupation began three years ago, its schools have been quietly filling. The number of children enrolled in schools nationwide rose by 7.4 percent from 2002 to 2005, and in middle schools and high schools by 27 percent in that time, according to figures from the Ministry of Education. […]
Economics is driving much of the rise, officials say. Public sector employees, who make up almost half the work force in Iraq, according to the Ministry of Planning, used to collect the equivalent of several dollars every month under Mr. Hussein. But since the American invasion, Iraq’s oil revenue has been earmarked for salaries instead of wars, and millions of Iraqis — doctors, engineers, teachers, soldiers — began to earn several hundred dollars a month.
Income from oil covers more than 90 percent of the Iraqi government’s spending, officials say. American money finances investment and reconstruction projects, but no current costs, like salaries.
The security situation is of paramount importance, and nobody disputes that. But it is not the only story in Iraq. The press has come in for sincere criticism that it reports on terrorist attacks and U.S. casualties without providing much context. Stories like this one are evidence that they are hearing us, and that we should keep demanding more and better information from Iraq. That — not a desire to censor “unpleasant and complicated news” — is why we criticize the press.