Here are some more details about Prime Minister Maliki's new Education Iniative, announced on July 25, 2009, that I believe exemplifies the kind of relationship we need to shape with Iraq in the future.
Iraq will be working with AED, a nonprofit educational consulting firm in the United States, that works on global education and other social issues, to set up the project. The initiative 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, 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.
“We are celebrating the desire of the Iraqis to continue to seek their education [with this initiative],” said Prime Minister al-Maliki, at the announcement of the initiative, which took place at AED's offices. “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.”
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 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.
Twenty-two universities, which are founding members of the American Universities Iraq Consortium, will be welcoming these students to their campuses.
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.