Iraqi Educators Take Note of US Springfield Institution

Five Iraqi educators touring an English teaching facility on Wednesday, met with admission officers for international students and learned about technical education in the Ozarks, Missouri, USA.

"It's very suitable for our students to be here. The Iraqis will be comfortable studying and learning here," concluded Sabah N. Alwachi, director of international cultural relations at the University of Baghdad.

Alwachi is a member of a five-person group from Iraq, where the government -- desiring to reform its education system -- has launched an ambitious five-year program to eventually send abroad 10,000 students a year on all-expense-paid government scholarships.

"The students want to go out to study, and we want them to be here," Alwachi said. "We want exposure to the outside world."

The country has been long isolated, especially under the regime of the toppled leader Saddam Hussein, Alwachi said.

U.S. and British colleges are preferred in this scholarship program, he said and Springfield colleges may just have a leg up.

Missouri is the first US state visited by Alwachi and his fellow Iraqi educators, who will help place Iraqi students in overseas universities.

Missouri was picked because an annual conference for international educators, which the Iraqi educators will attend -- happens to be in Kansas City this year, said Stacey Bustillos, project manager for the Iraq Education Initiative Scholarship Program at Washington-based Academy for Educational Development.

AED administers the program on behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which wants to match more Iraqi students with U.S. colleges and programs, Bustillos said.

The embassy-sponsored program plans to bring more than 200 Iraqi education advisers to the United States, Bustillos added.

Alwachi's group is the first group of Iraqi educators AED is bringing to the U.S.

In addition to Alwachi, the group has one educator each from Babylon University, Tikrit University and University of Duhok as well as an official from Higher Committee for Educational Development in Iraq The committee is a special body created by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to process student applications and match scholarship recipients to participating universities.

( Iraq Directory )

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