Iraq and the United States recently announced a cooperative education agreement that will allow Iraqi students to study at universities here in the U.S. The goal? Sending 500 Iraqi students to universities overseas as part of that country’s ongoing effort to educate its citizens.
Larry H. Dietz, [Southern Illinois University Carbondale] SIUC’s vice chancellor for student affairs, and John S. Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, returned Thursday morning from ceremonies in Baghdad launching the Iraq Education Initiative.
Dietz said Iraq’s initial goal is to send 500 Iraqi students abroad this fall to universities as a pilot project. The Iraqi government will use oil revenues to pay for the full scholarships, according to published reports.
Education infrastructure, instructors, and even students were all targeted by murderous Islamic radicals in Iraq’s post-Saddam non-civil war three years ago. Now it appears as though the country is stable enough to begin thinking about a real future, one in which college-level education is relevant again.
Minister Abed Theyab says an agreement has been reached with Texas A&M University, North Carolina State University and Ohio State University for professor and student exchanges.
Teaching the teachers is an important step in bootstrapping the local education system in Iraq, so I’m glad to see that it hasn’t been overlooked in these negotiations. TAMU, my alma mater, and the other schools mentioned are top-flight public institutions that can provide great resources to Iraqi citizens if the program is utilized to its utmost.
“We don’t want to see tanks and weapons (in Iraq), instead there will be a scholarly exchange,” Theyab told reporters at a joint press conference with the U.S. Embassy counselor for public affairs.
Good for them. Far from being anyone’s enemy, the U.S. has, for all of its faults and mistakes, always been willing to partner with any nation willing to work for good in the world. That may sound simplistic and even sappy, but I think it’s true.
People will be arguing about whether the invasion of Iraq was justified or a good idea – two different things – for a long time. Frankly that discussion is irrelevant. The U.S. has an obligation to do what it can to set Iraq on the right path. Sticking with the military solution was the right idea in 2006 and shifting to a peace-time rebuilding in 2009 is likewise the right thing to do.