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Iraq's Prime Minister Signals New Priority for Education

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2009-07-26 07:06:33     
Academy for Educational Development

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today announced at AED a new education initiative that will send up to 10,000 Iraqi students per year over the next five years to the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia to complete their higher education studies. The Initiative will begin with a pilot program of 500 - 600 students for the 2009-2010 school year. More than 200 people, many representing universities from across the country, attended today's announcement.

The Initiative, created, funded, and managed by Iraq, is designed to mitigate four decades of underdevelopment due to wars and the economic stagnation of the last two decades. Iraq's Higher Committee for Educational Development is administering the Initiative under the supervision of Dr. Zuhair Humadi, a renowned international educator, with advisory support provided by AED. AED is a nonprofit social change organization which works globally to improve education, health, social, and economic development.

"We are celebrating the desire of the Iraqis to continue to seek their education [with this initiative]," said Prime Minister al-Maliki. "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."

In the first phase of the Initiative, Iraq's Higher Committee for Educational Development will award scholarships to high-achieving Iraqi high school students who have taken required college admission tests. Students will be allowed to study nearly all majors and seek all degrees, including some PhDs. Iraqi students will be especially encouraged to study engineering, education, information technology, business, law and medicine. All scholarship recipients will be expected to return to Iraq after they complete their overseas programs.

"The Prime Minister's ambitious program says something important about what Iraq values: education--the bedrock for long-term social and economic development," said AED President Stephen F. Moseley, who noted that AED has been working in higher education for nearly 50 years.

The second phase of the Initiative, expected to start next year, will focus on the rejuvenation of the Iraqi education system from K-12 as well as spotlight higher education reform.

"This will always be remembered as the turning point in the development of Iraq," said Dr. Humadi. He added that the initiative could not have happened without the "vision and commitment" of the Prime Minister.

Twenty-two universities, which are founding members of the American Universities Iraq Consortium, will be welcoming these students to their campuses. Speaking on behalf of the Consortium, Dr. Larry H. Dietz, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, said the universities look forward to a "long and successful relationship" with Iraq.

Among these universities are Vanderbilt University, Virginia Commonwealth University, West Virginia University, and Texas A & M. The University System of Ohio will also admit students per an MOU signed at the July 25 ceremony by Dr. Humadi and Eric D. Fingerhut, Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. The intent of the Consortium is to streamline the admissions process for qualified Iraqi students. More universities are expected to join the Consortium.

The Initiative has the support of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Department of State.

AED: Founded in 1961, AED is a preeminent, nonprofit social change organization working globally to improve education, health, social and economic development--the backbone of thriving societies. Focusing on the underserved, AED's worldwide staff of 2000 implements more than 300 programs serving people in all 50 U.S. states and more than 150 countries.

Specialized in: Signals New Priority
URL: http://www.aed.org
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