Prof. dr. Abdul Sahib NAJAM
The higher education and scientific research sector is considered to be a leading sector of society, for its production of knowledge, which contributes to achieving the progress of the countries and that of their future goals. Therefore, an investment in this sector represents an investment in human resources, which have become the main source of progress in many fields.
After 2003, the alternating governments attempted to revive the sector of higher education and to develop it according to a new philosophy and vision, suitable for the changing circumstances Iraq witnessed during the past decade, which highlighted the values of freedom, democracy, justice and equality, respect for the others and their opinions, respect for human rights and the rights of minorities. For this purpose, Iraq is cooperating with the international organizations (the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF) since 2008, for preparing a national strategy for higher education and scientific research in Iraq, meant to serve as a basis for accomplishing a quality leap in this sector during the next ten years, according to the vision, the message, the strategic goals and the executive work projects, at the level of the Iraqi country as a whole, with all its governorates and the Region of Kurdistan. A high oversee committee for preparing the strategy was formed, headed by the Iraqi deputy Prime Minister, and composed of several ministries representatives, members of the Council of Representatives and advisors, leading to the formation of several specialized commissions, among which the most important are: the Commission of experts and advisors, headed by Assistant Prof. Dr. Mohsin Abd Ali, counselor within the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and composed of several general directors, and specialized university professors, a commission for drafting the strategy, as well as the technical specialized commissions within each ministry in the center and the whole region and, after decades of neglect and destruction, this step represented a real opportunity for reconstructing and developing this important sector.
First of all: The vision and the message:
The national strategy adopted a new approach, suitable for the democratic change being made in Iraq after 2003, while the vision and the message for the sector of higher education and scientific research were formed as follows:
a) the vision: an educational system providing learning opportunities for all by fulfilling the requirements of a civilized society, participating to the formation of people and establishing the principles of good citizenship, democracy and human rights.
b) the message: the reform of the higher education system and its development, derived from the nature of the Iraqi society, including the society of Kurdistan, and based on its requirements and needs, out of regard for the national privacy of minorities, which makes it participant to the knowledge production, with optimal use of the human, natural
and financial resources, in order to guarantee the achievement of a complete development, a decent life, peace and the homogeneity of opportunities. In the light of the fundamental challenges faced by this sector, the basic premises of its development were adopted, as follows:
– education which guarantees the equality of opportunities;
– high quality education;
– education contributing to overall development;
– education meeting the requirements of a civilized society;
– an effective and dynamic educational system.
Second: The strategic purposes:
The main challenges faced by the sector of higher education and scientific research have been previously determined, followed by the adoption of a series of strategic goals, based on vision, message and basic premises, focused on the main axes of the educational system, as follows:
1. The development of the administrative, legal and financial systems, and the improvement of management practices;
2. Building an appropriate infrastructure, able to accommodate the targeted number of pupils and students from different educational stages, working to improve the administrative climate and to develop the school and university environment;
3. Providing equal educational opportunities for all;
4. Improving the quality of various activities within the educational institutions, in order to align them with the international quality standards;
5. Meeting the financial requirements of the higher education sector, and working to improve the efficiency of funds management and rationalization of expenses.
6. Raising the performances of the scientific research and of its results, according to the requirements of a sustainable development in Iraq.
Third: Programs and projects:
Not only did the strategy determine the philosophical framework and the basic orientation of the sector, but it has also worked on finding the suitable ground for achieving it, by developing the executive programs and projects covering the ten-year strategy until 2002. Seven basic programs including 115 projects were adopted, covering six main axes, as follows:
The first program: the enactment of laws and issuing instructions for developing the system of higher education (17 projects).
The second program: the creation, expansion and rehabilitation of infrastructure and the improvement of the scholastic and university environments (24 projects).
The third program: equal education for all (in terms of admission, equality and efficiency), (24 projects).
The fourth program: ensuring quality and reliable higher education (78 projects).
The fifth program: development of financial resources (16 projects).
The sixth program: improving the performances and results of research according to the requirements of a sustainable development in Iraq (20 projects).
Fourth: The executive stage
After adopting the national strategy, the Council of Ministers started with the implementation of programs and projects, by forming a high commission within the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, headed by the assistant professor and counselor Dr. Muhsin Abd Ali, while several counselors and general directors promptly started with implementing its first steps, in accordance with the time frame adopted within the national strategy for higher education and scientific research in Iraq, hoping to obtain high rates of completion of what was designed by the strategy for this dynamic sector.