Discussion during the top level meeting revolved around the determination of HRH Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, to push through plans to accelerate the implementation process and restore Iraq’s universities and technical colleges.
In a major development there was commitment from several countries to provide money for the first time to support the work of the International Fund for Higher Education in Iraq, the body in charge of financing the initiative. This followed an earlier pledge from Qatar to provide scholarships for Iraqi students to pursue higher education, with particular emphasis given to studies in medicine and industry, areas critical to Iraq’s recovery.
Last month’s Paris meeting also saw agreement reached between the special Committee of the International Fund for Higher Education in Iraq and UNESCO on how to push through work on various projects to restore the higher education sector and the coordination needed to ensure progress is rapid. Future projects to extend the system have also been planned.
Mr. Marcio Barbosa, UNESCO’s Deputy Director General, Professor Georges Haddad, Director of Higher Education at UNESCO, and members of the coordinating team attended the meeting. Representing the Committee were Mr. Bader Abdullah Darwish, its President and Dr. Hamad Bin Nasser Al Thani and Mr. Ali Zainal, Committee members. Also participating were Dr. Victor Billeh, UNESCO’s Regional Manager in Beirut, and Dr. Hamad Hammami, the Regional Manager of UNESCO’s Bureau in Doha.
Mr. Bader Abdullah Darwish said: “Despite the fact the Committee has been operational for less than a year there have been considerable achievements in the face of the extremely difficult circumstances prevailing in Iraq.
“Much of this is thanks to the great support offered by HRH Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education in UNESCO. She was instrumental in the foundation of this Fund in October 2003, when Qatar donated $15 million to the International Fund for Higher Education in Iraq, a plan she launched jointly with Mr. Koichiro Matssuura, the Director General of UNESCO.
“This initiative has been taken not only in the context of Iraq’s most immediate needs, but also in terms of the long-term vision to rehabilitate and reconstruct the higher education system in the Iraqi universities.”
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