Maliki teams with US universities to rebuild Iraqi education
Iraq plans to send 50,000 students abroad for advanced studies over the next five years to bolster its once highly respected educational system.
Aiming to restore the once renowned prestige of its devastated education system, Iraq plans to send up to 50,000 students abroad for advanced studies over the next five years, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told a group of educators gathered Saturday in Washington.Skip to next paragraph
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The scholarship program is set to launch this fall with the arrival of about 500 students in the United States and Britain for English-language training. Later, students will also study at universities in Canada, Japan, France, and Australia.
"We are celebrating the desire of the Iraqis to continue to seek their education," said Mr. Maliki, who is on a visit to the United States. "Our universities were known for being the most advanced universities in the world, but because of ... all that we have gone through ... we have lost what we had before."
Zuhair Humadi, special assistant to the prime minister for educational matters,called the initiative "a bold program that will lift Iraq forward" because education "is the key to development."
Softer side of US-Iraqi relations
In a phone interview, Mr. Humadi also said that the initiative is indicative of a new phase in US-Iraqi relations.
"Instead of armies and war and killing and occupation," he said, "we're moving to something more meaningful, namely economic development, education, and exchanges of students and professors."
The scholarship program "will open up Iraq, which has been isolated for 50 years, and really let it get back to a normal situation," he added.
Maliki formally announced the scholarship program Saturday before an audience of about 200 at the Washington offices of the Academy for Educational Development, a nonprofit devoted to global social change, particularly through improving education.
The Academy has a contract with the Iraqi government to be the "implementing partner" for the scholarship program, providing it with administrative support and advice, according to Academy senior vice president for communications, Mary Maguire.
Most of the guests were representatives of 22 US universities that are founding members of the American Universities Iraq Consortium – a group that has agreed to help streamline the admissions process for Iraqi students and ease their transition to US campuses, Humadi said. Other US universities are welcome to join the consortium, he added.