Duhok, Kurdistan Region of Iraq – September 20th, 2021 – The American University of Kurdistan hosted the kick-off event of a 3-year educational reform initiative for the Kurdistan Region. It will emphasize a holistic approach to education from the elementary level to master’s and doctoral education.
As proposed to H.E Nechirvan Barzani, President of The Kurdistan Region, by Dr. Randall Rhodes, President of the American University of Kurdistan, this “National Conversation on K-19 Education” will exclusively involve national stakeholders dedicated to policymaking and the administration of elementary, secondary, and higher education.
The event featured keynote speeches from Their Excellencies Nechirvan Barzani, President of Kurdistan Region, and Masrour Barzani, Prime Minister of Kurdistan Region, alongside a panel discussion with both Alan Hama Saeed, Minister of Education, and Dr. Aram Mohammad Qadir, Minister of Higher Education. They presented their visions for education and priority areas for discussion.
The goal of the “Conversation” was to establish a forum to identify strategic priorities, and the reformation and grooming of the current educational system in the Kurdistan Region into an exemplary model for Iraq and the Middle East. The focus was on workforce preparedness, not just preparing graduates for Kurdistan’s economic needs of today but into the future.
“The conversation within the workgroups must uphold a broad perspective, from child to student, to university graduate to professional, and it is also pivotal to concentrate on the gaps/transitions between each stage to not only ensure readiness for advancement but also to optimize individual growth and foster a commitment to lifelong learning, all of which benefits the civic and economic well-being and prosperity of the nation,” stated AUK President Dr. Randall Rhodes in his opening remarks. “We have to change the culture that values diplomas over learning and test scores over student outcomes,” he added.
“We, as the Kurdistan Regional Government, have set the goal to, through education and training, provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary for Kurdistan’s labor market and stability,” proclaimed H.E. Prime Minister Masrour Barzani; he also announced the establishment of the National Accreditation Body to evaluate the current educational system and promote continuous progress.
“By any means, I could’ve not allowed myself to miss today’s event as I, after discussions with Dr. Randall Rhodes over the past two years, believe educational reformation is one of the most urgent issues the current Government of the Kurdistan Region needs to address,” said H.E. President Nechirvan Barzani in his keynote speech.
After the keynote speeches, a panel discussion with Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministers of Education and Higher Education, hosted by Dr. Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, took place where the panelists mentioned the current university admissions system, which only considers students’ high school scores. Increasing the number of vocational schools and institutes was also a central topic of the discussion.
Following the conversation with the ministers, Rory Robertshaw, Chief of Education at UNICEF, Bahar Ali, Director of EMMA Organization for Human Development, and Mercy Zindimu from Duhok’s British International School were called on stage to present respectively on “UNICEF’s Research and Data Collection,” “Gender Parity in Education within Kurdistan” and “Working with Children with Learning Challenges.”
The last panel discussion highlighted NGOs working across the educational spectrum. It featured Abdulqader Kakasur, UNICEF, Sherwan Mohammed Mahdi, GIZ, and AbdulSalam Medeni, Rwanga Foundation.
On September 20th, AUK hosted the K-19 Task Force’s first meeting. The Task Force discussed its charge and begin the process of identifying action items for future development.