Iraq is in the early stage of an “demographic window of opportunity”, with a young population and a growing labour force. However, the young generation entering the labour market in Iraq is facing an education gap, compared with peers in countries at the same income level.

The paper draws on international practices from other countries’ experiences that have demonstrated positive impact on school enrolment. It outlines how effective social protection programmes can strengthen access to education, by addressing some of the financial barriers faced by school-aged children.

Under a European Union funded programme to reform social protection, the ILO is providing technical assistance to the government of Iraq, in efforts to strengthen the adequacy, coverage and sustainability of the social protection system.

This paper forms part of a series of working papers produced under the programme – often jointly – by the ILO country team in Iraq which aim to support Government decision-making pertaining to social protection reform. These papers are feeding into important policy discussions on the priorities and direction of reform. This includes the dialogue platform established by the ILO and the Ministry of Planning that brings together central thought leaders, academics, decision-makers and development partners to discuss and debate key issues and priorities relating to social and labour policy in Iraq. 

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