On 6 June, the European Union and Government of Iraq launched a major programme to improve the future of young Iraqis. The programme will be implemented though the British Council, the United Kingdom’s international cultural and educational agency. It will:
- Improve education standards in 1,700 schools through improved teacher training. This will benefit 800,000 pupils in 10 Iraqi provinces directly;
- Work with Iraqi businesses to improve the curriculum in 160 Iraqi vocational colleges. This will help 130,000 young people acquire the skills they need for the labour market and secure jobs;
- Improve the quality of sport and physical education in schools by creating 10 centres of excellence. These in turn will support neighbouring schools.
The programme will be implemented over 3 years by the British Council in collaboration with the Ministries of Education, Higher Education and Youth & Sport. It forms part of a wider 21 M Euro ($ 29 M) EU funded package of support for Education in Iraq.
The launch was held at the Foundation for Technical Education, and was presided over by HE Dr Salam H Khoshnaw (Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research), HE Jana Hybaskova (EU Ambassador to Iraq), and Dr Mahmoud Shaker (Director of the National Foundation for Technical Education). The new British Ambassador, HE Michael Aron, Regional Head of EU Development Mr Jobst Von Kirchmann, and Director of the British Council Mr Brendan McSharry were also present.
Musical interludes were provided by students from NFTE colleges.
Speaking shortly before the event, Ambassador Designate of the European Union to Iraq, HE Jana Hybaskova, said:
“I am delighted to help launch this event with the Iraqi Ministry of Education and the British Council. Every year, 700,000 Iraqi children fail to start the new academic year. There are a range of reasons for this but the effect is to rob Iraq of the foundation it deserves for long-term economic growth. I am confident this three year programme will help the Iraqi education sector overcome the challenges it faces, and strengthen the shared ethical and educational values between the people of Europe and Iraq.”
The recently appointed British Ambassador to Iraq, HE Michael Aron, said:
“This is an excellent initiative that will really benefit Iraq for generations to come. I’m delighted that the European Union has decided to deliver a substantial portion of the programme through the British Council, an organisation with a fantastic track record of improving the skills and career prospects of young people across the world. Today’s launch represents a new strand in the relationship between the people of Iraq and Europe, and I’m proud that British expertise is playing such a central role.”
Director of British Council in Iraq, Brendan McSharry, said:
“This programme is all about setting and meeting quality standards of education in schools and colleges, so that Iraqi boys and girls get the best learning experience possible. For this to succeed, the Ministries of Education and Higher Education with the help of the EU and British Council must be rigorous in their monitoring, evaluation and development of teaching throughout the country and ensure that the unique model of cascade training of teachers that this programme employs is supported by them and here to stay. I am confident that the ministerial talent and commitment of the Government of Iraq will ensure these programme objectives are met and that Iraq’s future is brighter.”
(Source: Foreign and Commonwealth Office)