While the Iraqi school system was expanded during the 1970s, it fell apart in the 1980s and 90s as money was diverted to the military and weapons development programs. Even many of the "literate" recruits are barely so, and the army and police have established literacy programs to enable personnel to become literate enough to deal with more advanced equipment (including computers). Most Iraqis aspire to literacy, especially because of high tech gadgets, like cell phones and personal computers, that are now widely available.
Apparently under the influence of its American advisors, the Iraqi Army does not recruit illiterates. Unfortunately, about 45 percent of Iraqi men are illiterate. Worse, illiteracy is particularly common among people living in the less developed regions of the country, and among the those most likely to be living the tribal life. The terrorists and warlords have no compunctions about recruiting illiterates, and actually prefer them, as they are easier to control. The old Iraqi army had the same attitude. But the new Iraqi army is trained to fight more as a modern Western force, rather than the medieval mass of drilled and ignorant robots favored in the Middle East. Despite the fact that the Western style of fighting has proved itself superior time and again, Middle Eastern despots feel more secure with an army full troops trained not to think for themselves or use initiative.