UNESCO officials concluded a series of meetings held with director generals in Ministries of Education in the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government, as well as representatives from local NGOs, to discuss ways to enhance cooperation and accelerate the implementation of UNESCO programmes targeting 10,000 out-of-school children and youth in Iraq.
“UNESCO is committed to extend its technical and financial support to related Ministries to allow 10,000 IDPs children and youth re-enroll in academic institutions”, stated Zulfiqar Ali, Education Project manager in UNESCO Office for Iraq. “Providing a learning opportunity for all children and youth, and making sure that their education is not interrupted by displacement is a main priority for UNESCO in this stage, and a pillar for its projects in Iraq”, he added. UNESCO’ expert’s statement came following his three days’ meetings with the Iraqi officials from 5 to 7 September 2014 in the city of Erbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
UNESCO’s response is based on two main projects focusing on schools renovation, reconstruction, examination, organizing catch-up classes and providing psychosocial support. With the aim to guarantee IDPs’ children and youth right to quality education, UNESCO Office for Iraq is implementing the “Educate A Child Initiative (EACI) in Iraq” and “Providing access to quality education to adolescents and young adults in conflict affected areas in Iraq”, two pioneering initiatives funded respectively by the governments of Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These interventions will provide access to education for internally displaced out-of-school children and youth at primary and secondary level in camps, as well as in host communities in Iraq.
Dr. Yousif Othman, Director General of Educational Planning, at the Ministry of Education in the Kurdistan regional government praised UNESCO efforts, and stressed that “schools used as shelter by IDPs need to be evacuated, and UNESCO already committed to renovate and reconstruct secondary schools for IDPs children and youth allowing them to start schooling from new academic year”.
The BBC’s Kevin Conolly has published an illuminating piece about the mentality of Baghdad residents who live day to day with the risk of violence.
Citing what others have compared to the “blitz spirit” of Londoners during the German air raids in WW2, Conolly describes life in and around Baghdad’s famous Mutanabbi book market as “a joyful testament to the durability of the human spirit.”
Christopher Hill, director of research training and academic development at the University of Nottingham, has written an article based on his experience in university level capacity building in Iraq for academic journal The Conversation.
Professor Hill points out the increased expenditure in rebuilding Iraqi universities, but posits that until more academics can be nurtured in Iraq it will be a challenge to see the sector return to the quality and renown it last saw in the 1960’s and 70’s.
Noting that higher education minister Ali al-Adeeb has outlined a plan for 13 new universities and 28 new colleges last year with UNESCO, World Bank and UNICEF support (a $200 million dollar plan) Hill outlines some of the difficulties with this strategy and suggests some ideal approaches.
The Government of Iraq has launched a new national education strategy to improve access to quality education for Iraq’s 33 million citizens.
“This is Iraq’s first ever national education strategy, which is unique in both Iraq and the region,” said Dr. Mohammed Ali Tamim, Iraq’s Minister of Education. “This strategy will respond to the needs of over 8 million students presently in school and an additional 3 million students in alternative education programmes.”
The strategy focuses on a number of components, including providing free and accessible education to children and youth from pre-school to higher education as well as ensuring a high quality education based on global best practices.
“This strategy presents a serious and ambitious roadmap to bring about a qualitative improvement in Iraq’s education sector,” said Dr. Ali Al-Adib, Iraq’s Minister of Higher Education. “The investments that it sets out will improve the political, economic, social and technical structures in the country.”
The strategy aims to enhance social reintegration and cohesion as well as prevent social exclusion within Iraqi society. It calls for financial resources to be dedicated to ensure adequate educational, psychological and social support for the most marginalized individuals across Iraq.
Key educational targets in the strategy include increasing Iraq’s pre-school enrolment rate from the current rate of 7 per cent, to 22per cent by 2020, as well as the primary school enrolment rate from today’s 93 per cent to 98 per cent by the end of 2015.
The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Higher Education Minister last week met government and university representatives in Poland, which has recently been added as a destination for Kurdistan’s scholarship students.
Dr Ali Saeed Mohammad, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, came to Poland to explore ways of strengthening educational ties, at the invitation of the Marshals of the Małopolska and Wielkopolska regions.
Minister Saeed was received by the Vice Marshal of the Wielkopolska Region, Mr Leszek Wojtas, and met Polish government officials and figures from prominent universities to speak about the recent addition of Poland to the list of countries taking part in the KRG’s Human Capacity Development Program (HCDP) and ways to increase collaboration in higher education. The HCDP provides funding to citizens of the Kurdistan Region who meet the criteria to study Masters degrees and doctorates abroad.
As part of his official visit, the Minister participated in ceremonies to inaugurate the academic year at Kraków’s Academy of Fine Arts and at Jagiellonian University. Established in 1364, Jagiellonian is not only the largest university in Kraków, but it is also one of the oldest universities Europe.
Minister Saeed went to other universities both in Kraków and Poznań, including the University of Adam Mickiewicz, where he saw its Centre for Kurdish Studies in which Polish students study Kurdish language and culture.
The visit follows several high-level meetings between the KRG and Polish officials and initiatives to promote stronger bilateral ties between the Poland and the Kurdistan Region.
The KRG signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Małopolska Region of Poland earlier this year, and last month the KRG Minister of Planning, Dr Ali Sindi, and the Chairman of the Kurdistan Board of Investment, Minister Herish Muharam, participated in the 22nd Economic Forum in Krynica where they focused on building stronger economic relations.
Minister Saeed was accompanied by the KRG Representative to Poland, Mr Ziyad Raoof, throughout his visit.
The U.S. Mission in Iraq is hosting an EducationUSA University Fair in Erbil, October 12 and 13, as part of its ongoing activities to promote educational and cultural exchange opportunities between the U.S. and Iraq.
EducationUSA is funded by the U.S. Department of State and provides accurate and complete information – for free – to all students interested in pursuing academic studies in the United States.
The fair will host representatives from more than 20 U.S. universities to meet with prospective Iraqi students. A full list of participating universities can be found on the EducationUSA Iraq Facebook page, www.facebook.com/StudyUSAIraq.
The fair will take place at the Rotana Hotel Ballroom in Erbil on October 12 and 13 from 1:00PM until 6:00PM. All interested students are invited to attend. No prior registration is necessary. To make best use of this opportunity, students are encouraged to bring copies of academic records, TOEFL scores, and scholarship award letters, if possible.
The U.S. Mission in Iraq has two EducationUSA Advisors dedicated to helping Iraqi students from all provinces interested in studying at U.S. universities. Advisors provide information and services to Iraqi students by email, telephone, and online through the Facebook page and official U.S. Mission websites.
Advisors also give group presentations at universities, schools, and at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and U.S. Consulate General in Erbil. EducationUSA is part of the United States’ commitment, under the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement, to advance educational exchange.
Students who want to study in the U.S. can “Like” the EducationUSA Facebook page for regular updates and email questions to [email protected] or [email protected] For more information visit the U.S. Embassy website at www.iraq.usembassy.gov or the U.S. Consulate General Erbil website at www.erbil.usconsulate.gov.
On September 20, the U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Iraq’s Ministry of Education, outlining a partnership to support Iraqi efforts to improve primary education, as called for under the U.S. – Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.
The MOU was signed by the Minister of Education, Dr. Mohamed Ali Tameem, and the USAID Mission Director, Thomas Staal.
The U.S. Government is partnering with the Ministry of Education on several projects to advance the education reform agenda of the Government of Iraq (GOI). The GOI’s Partnership Committee approved funding to support these development activities with USAID earlier this year.
The MOU formalizes the collaborative working relationship between USAID and the Ministry of Education to co-finance projects that enhance the quality of primary education, strengthen school management, and improve teacher training.