During a recent visit by schoolchildren to the Center for Academic and Professional Advancement (CAPA), I remember distinctly a young girl who would raise her hand each time I asked a question, her eyes sparkled with anticipation and an eagerness to contribute, and when she responded to a question, her thoughts were lucid and insightful. She was the heartbeat of the audience. In my mind, she personified the spirit and essence of lifelong learning. Her curiosity, wrapped in dreams of her future, showed that learning and continuous growth are possible.
I am often asked to define continuous education and lifelong learning people ask me, what is CAPA and what does it do? CAPA’s vision is to bridge the gap between AUK and the community, both the public and private sectors, in order to enable meaningful learning and facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills in order to create a skillful, educated workforce and productively engaged citizens. The Center partners with the Kurdistan Regional Government, governorates, municipalities, and generally, in communities to offer courses for children and youth to develop critical thinking skills and to learn about art, the English language, computer programming and coding, computer literacy, public speaking, and many other subject areas. Such trainings, workshops, and short-term courses are adapted for all ages and enable children, youths, and professionals to learn new technologies and skills academically, and grow in their career paths. The Center offers our Young Learners Program, which this summer engaged about 210 students.
In respect to professional development, CAPA offers courses in business start-ups, human resource management, accounting, project management, tourism and hospitality, women’s leadership and entrepreneurship, and teaching English as a second language. The professional and academic preparation courses have around 300 students from all over Kurdistan and beyond. And reflective of a culture of continuous assessment and improvement, CAPA employs rigorous quality assurance processes; our student assessment surveys continuously show near 99% satisfaction with both program and instruction.
Recently, we have also partnered with Zakho university and the Zakho administration to build capacity and offer courses for Community growth, tourism and hospitality, student skills development and knowledge diversification, English language proficiency, and children’s English and critical thinking skill development. With such initiatives, AUK will promote continuous education, a lifelong learning culture and strengthen economic diversification across Kurdistan, and eventually, across Iraq. For lifelong learning to become a traditional value, it is important for all sectors of society to engage, including families, communities, government agencies, ministries, and other universities. The CAPA offers everyone an opportunity to learn what they choose and to apply what they have learned in their personal and professional lives.