by Deena Al Hilli
Algebra, geometry and arithmetic all stem from Babylonian Mathematics in Iraq, a country once renowned for its higher educational standards. Students in Iraq were headhunted from international universities to continue their further education and apply their expertise. However, years of sanctions and wars has damaged the educational system in Iraq. Following the fall of Saddam in 2003, the system got worse before it could get better with issues such as university books and equipment being stolen, lack of school supplies, kidnapping of students and academics, terror threats, lack of clean water and many people fleeing the country to find stability and security.
An interesting article I came across which highlighted a good future for a few great Iraqi students http://www.al-jamiat.com/featured/search-great-iraqi-students talks about an initiative of improving Iraqi Education by sending 50,000 students to universities in the West. Encouraging students to study abroad will help the government in the long term, however focusing on the remaining number of students who will be lacking world class education appears to also be in great need.
This issue led me to another article that caught my attention, an article written in 2004 http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2004/sep/23/research.highereducation highlighting the hardship that universities in Iraq are facing. The best university in Iraq doesn’t have chairs for students to sit on. These issues obviously make it hard for the university to continue running, let alone improving the education standards. What happens now to the many Iraqi students who will be staying behind in the country, due to lack of funding or are not eligible to be sent abroad?
There are several sources of funding and projects to help improve Iraqi higher education, sending some books, schools rehabilitation, and external partnerships in the West. Whilst there is an active movement with improving the education for particular students, there still lays a concern of how to restore the previous standard of higher education within the country.
However this initiative to help Iraqi students improve their education opens a great new market for international universities in the West, particularly as many of the university officers and advisors have already been impressed with some of the quality of high caliber students coming from Iraq[i]. If this is the case, then it appears that both the students and the international universities will be benefiting greatly from this active move.