Iraq Education and Training News


Germany supports Training to Respond to Explosive Hazards

The Federal Republic of Germany supports joint Ministry of Interior and UNMAS training to respond to explosive hazards

This week marked the beginning of a 75-day training course in Anbar jointly organized by the Ministry of Interior and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).

This course will be the first of its kind, with Iraqi Police instructors and UNMAS instructors working closely side-by-side to train local police in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and improvised explosive devices disposal (IEDD).

Explosive hazards continue to pose a significant risk for people returning to their homes, as well as for the security services providing the initial response to the explosive threat. Displaced people who are returning to former battle areas are likely to encounter explosive hazards.

One of the options available to them is to contact local police who, in turn, will be the first responders. The presence of trained local police contributes to a safer environment and mitigates the risks of casualties amongst returnees.

“Explosive hazard clearance remains of the utmost importance in order to allow displaced people to return to their homes. Such clearances are a vital part of our stabilisation efforts” said Dr Cyrill Jean Nunn, Ambassador of Germany to Iraq. “Therefore Germany remains committed to supporting UNMAS in this important task.”

“Capacity enhancement support to enable local police response to explosive hazards is critical for the re-establishment of rule of law in liberated areas” said. Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager. “Germany is a crucial partner for supporting explosive hazard management training and providing advice to the Government of Iraq.”

The generous contribution of EUR 4.5 million from the Federal Republic of Germany allows UNMAS to provide training and advice to National Mine Action Authorities and the Ministry of Interior to mitigate the threat from explosive hazards. This also includes a dedicated Gender Advisor who is working with relevant stakeholders (implementing partners and authorities) to mainstream gender into Mine Action processes.

UNMAS continues to train local police to provide life-saving first response in affected communities. Since January 2018, more than 370 police officers have been trained as first responders and 30 police officers are now able to train other police officers in Anbar and Kirkuk Governorates.

The Federal Republic of Germany remains the largest contributor to UNMAS in Iraq, providing a total of EUR 44.2 million since 2016.

(Source: UN)

UNAMI publishes Latest Yearbook

By John Lee.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has today issued its Yearbook for 2017, outlining what UNAMI and the United Nations Country Team did for Iraq over the past year.

It can be downloaded here.

(Source: UNAMI)

Running for Modern Education across Iraq

By Hussein Al-alak.

Running with history, for modern education across Iraq

On Thursday 19th July, myself and Tracy Hollowood are taking part in the Run Media City 5K – to raise awareness of the educational achievements and mental health services of the AMAR Foundation in Iraq.

This run is different to my involvement on the Great Manchester Run in May – as this time we are paying tribute to the North of England’s relationship, with Iraq and the wider Middle East. As John F Kennedy stated; “geography has made us neighbours” and “history has made us friends”.

The reasons for this start with Notitia Dignitatum, a Roman document from around AD400, which describes how Roman Mesopotamian’s -modern day Iraqi’s- patrolled the UK’s South Shields, whilst bargemen from Iraq’s famous Tigris River once patrolled the River Tyne.

I have laughed with Tracy about our “Anthony and Cleopatra” 5K run for AMAR but when General George Keppel was travelling along Iraq’s Tigris River in 1824, he painted vivid descriptions of boatmen who resembled the “ancient heroes of Greece and Rome“.

It’s not just Britain’s occupation under the Roman Empire, which establishes a historic link between the North of England and Iraq. Archaeologist, spy and creator of “modern Iraq” Gertrude Bell – was born and raised in the North East – infact Washington – part of historic County Durham.

Further tributes to Britain’s relationship with the region, are acknowledged by the arrival of Siegfried Sassoon’s grandfather from Basra to Manchester in 1858. The famous historian of Lebanese descent Albert Hourani, was also born in Manchester but in 1915.

Author of “A History of the Arab Peoples”, Albert Hourani’s book has been described by Harvard University Press – as being “the definitive story of Arab civilisation” which became “an instant classic”upon publication.

It was Maya Angelou who said “the more you know of your history, the more liberated you are” and growing up, I was fortunate to be raised in a mixed heritage family, where an understanding of history was appreciated and a study of history encouraged.

I was incredibly fortunate to have a grandmother, who was born in 1917 and raised in Newcastle during the Great Depression. My grandmother could recall the many struggles that families went through, during the economic downturn of the 1930’s, prior to the creation of the Welfare State.

I was also lucky to have a grandfather, who was born in Manchester’s Moss Side in 1907 and in 1945; was among the British forces who helped liberate the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. In post-war Britain, my grandfather then took an active role in helping with the city’s reconstruction, as a member of Manchester City Council.

After attending the AMAR Foundation’s recent dinner at the Foreign Office, I visited Great Uncle Ron Fisher, who as a member of Britain’s merchant navy, lost his life when the Empire Gilbert ship was torpedoed in 1942. Uncle Ron’s name at-least, now rests on the Tower Hill Memorial, facing the Tower of London.

As world events “have rumbled on since those gagged days”, the past would never have known that in 2018, taking part in the Run Media City 5K and asking for help to advance AMAR’s efforts in education, would be following a family tradition in rebuilding lives after war.

Because of reforms brought in by the British Government, following the Allied victory in World War Two, education became accessible for all children, allowing for my grandparents to raise children in a post-war environment, which enabled them to pursue a college and university education.

Those same reforms also allowed for Uncle Ron’s widow, my great Aunt Jean and her second husband David (a veteran of the Merchant Navy), to dedicate their lives, to educating young people in a private boarding school. The young people they taught had been excluded from the mainstream education system.

Whilst at the AMAR Foundation’s dinner at the Foreign Office, Lord Mark Price praised the efforts of Baroness Emma Nicholson – AMAR’s founder and chairperson – along with praising everyone who has helped AMAR remain a tour de force for 25 years.

Lord Price gave mention to the fact, AMAR has helped educate 5 million people across Iraq, with each person having experienced conflict or the loss of loved ones as a result. The people educated by AMAR are diverse and their circumstances often reflect the country’s recent history with conflict.

But AMAR also recognise, the future does not have to be determined by Iraq’s recent past, as it was once stated “they who ignore history are destined to repeat its mistakes”. This determination, is something that we can only carry with us but it’s something that only we the people can also change.

Hussein Al-alak is the editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra). To support Hussein and Tracy on the Run Media City 5K, they are asking that people donate to the AMAR Foundation: please click here.

IBBC and Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education sign MoU

Iraq Britain Business Council and Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research sign Memorandum of Understanding

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research at the IBBC Cumberland Lodge Retreat on 7 July.

The memorandum was signed by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and H.E. Dr Abdul Razzaq Al-Issa, Iraqi Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The singing was supported and witnessed by Ambassador Jon Wilks CMG, Her Majesty’s A mbassador to the Republic of Iraq and Dr Nahi Al-Rikabi, the Iraqi Cultural Attaché to London.

The memorandum details the commitment of both parties to work together in a constructive and progressive way to further enhance links between Iraqi and UK institutions of higher education.

The partnership is a further boost to the IBBC’s efforts to support initiatives between UK universities and Iraqi institutions of higher education.

IBBC has three British Universities within the council; Bath Spa University, University of Northampton and University of Leicester, who are all active within Iraq and aiming to increase their activities in the country. Mosul University has also recently joined the Council as IBBC continue to expand its Education & Heritage Sector Table.

(Source: IBBC)

IBBC holds annual Cumberland Lodge Conference

IBBC holds annual Cumberland Lodge Conference with Political, Academic, Education and Business Experts, 6-8 July

The Iraq Britain Business Council hosted its annual Cumberland Lodge Retreat on 6-8 July, inviting a host of political, business, academic and education experts to discuss the most pertinent issues relating to Iraq and its future.

The title of the conference was ‘Iraq: Domestic Expectations & Geopolitical Aspirations’ and addressed a variety of issues on regional politics, election diagnosis and the future of higher education in Iraq.

On Friday members and guests heard speeches from Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Dr Edmund Canon Newell, Principal of Cumberland Lodge, Mr Nazar Mirajan Mohammed, Minister Plenipotentiary Iraq Embassy and Sara Akbar, Founder Member of IBBC, Kuwait Government Adviser and CEO of new IBBC member OiLSERVE.

The conference also featured in-depth discussions with high level representatives from the Government of Iraq, including Dr Abdul Razzaq Al-Issa, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Dr Adbul Kariem Al Faisal, Chairman of the PM’s Advisory, Dr Dara Rasheed, Deputy Minister for Construction, Housing and Municipalities and Deputy Head of Refaato and Dr Salah Hadi Saleh Alhashim, DG for Scholarships at he Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

Agenda & Speakers

Session 1: Present Situation in Iraq

Chair: Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

Dr Barham Salih MP, Coalition for Democracy, Jon Wilks CMG (tbc), HM Ambassador to Iraq, Dr Renad Mansour, Research Fellow, Chatham House, Professor Toby Dodge, Director Middle East Centre, LSE

Session 2: Iraq in a Regional Perspective

Chair: Dr Renad Mansour, Research Fellow, Chatham House

Sara Akbar, CEO Oil Serve Kuwait

Session 3: China and Iraq

Chair: Botan Osman, Managing Director, Restrata

Raffaello Pantucci, Director of International Security Studies, RUSI

Session 4: IMF view on Iraq

Chair: Gavin Wishart, Board Member, IBBC

Gavin Gray, Mission Chief for Iraq, IMF

Session 5: Partnerships between British and Iraqi Universities

Chair: Dr Victoria Lindsay, Director British Council Iraq

Professor Obay Al Dewachi, President of Mosul University, Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor, Northampton University, Professor Mohammed Al Uzri, Honorary Professor with Social and Epidemiological Psychiatry Research Group, Leicester University, Professor John Strachan, Vice Chancellor, Bath Spa University

On Saturday 7, an after dinner speech was given by Dr Mohammed Jasim, Library Director of Mosul University, who gave an impassioned presentation on the progress made in rebuilding the university’s dilapidated library.

IBBC would like thank the staff at Cumberland Lodge, all speakers and delegates who contributed to the extremely fruitful discussions, and to its members, with representatives attending from Al Burhan Group, Al Nukbha OFS, Bath Spa University, BP, Olive Group, Eversheds Sutherland, G4S, KBR, Menzies Aviation, Mosul University, Najaf Chamber of Commerce, OiLSERV, Penspen, Perkins+Will, Petrofac, Restrata, Serco, Shell, TurnKey LLC, University of Leicester, University of Northampton and Wood.

(Source: IBBC)

Kuwait Fund lends $80m for Iraqi Schools

A Loan Agreement has been signed in Kuwait between the Republic of Iraq and Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) whereby the Fund will extend a loan of Kuwaiti Dinars twenty three million five hundred thousand (KD. 23,500,000/-), equivalent to about US$ 80 million, to contribute in financing of Building Modern Schools in Baghdad and the States Project in the Republic of Iraq.

It is worth mentioning that the Fund is a Kuwaiti Public Corporation, which relies entirely on its own resources for making loans and providing other kinds of development assistance. It is also worth mentioning that the Loan Agreement would contribute in achieving the fourth goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in respect of good education that guarantees comprehensive education for all and to enhance opportunities for durable education.

The Loan Agreement was signed on behalf of the Republic of Iraq by Dr. Salahuddin Hamed AL-HADEETHY, Director-General of the Department of Public Debt, Ministry of Finance, and on behalf of the Fund by Mr. Abdulwahab Ahmed Al-Bader, Director-General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

The Project shall participate in the economic and social development in the Republic of Iraq. Through elevating the educational and vocational levels of pupils in the primary and secondary levels by availing, more educational opportunities through provision of additional educational seats and building new schools that will participate in reducing overcrowding in double, triple teaching shifts, and reduce student’s dropouts.

The Project includes the construction of about 73 schools of either 18 or 12 classrooms over 15 Iraqi governorates. Works include civil, electrical and sanitary works for administration, classrooms and labs in addition to provision of sanitary facilities and utilities. The Project also includes provision of engineering consultancy services for design and supervision.

The total cost of the Project is estimated at about Iraqi Dinars 125.507 Million, equivalent of about KD. 48.3 million, of which the foreign currency is equivalent to about KD. 31.23 million, of which about 87.774 Million Iraqi Dinars, which about 21.84 Million Kuwaiti Dinar in foreign currency, it represents about 70% of the total cost of the Project. The project will be implemented within three years.

The Loan will be for a period of 20 years including 4 years grace period, and will be amortized in 40 semi-annual installments, the first of which will be due on 1st date on which any interest or other charge on the Loan shall fall due after the elapse of the above mentioned grace period. The interest at the rate of one and one-half of one percent (1.5%) per annum. An additional charge of one-half of one per cent (0.5%) per annum on the amounts withdrawn from the Loan and outstanding from time to time shall be paid to meet the administrative expenses and the expenses of implementing this Agreement

Upon signature of this Loan Agreement, this Loan will be the 3rd loan extended by the Fund to the Republic of Iraq, considering that the Fund has already extended 2 loans to Iraq in 1970 and 1971, totaling about KD 5.7 Million fully withdrawn.  In addition, the Fund is currently administering 4 Grants on behalf of the State of Kuwait amounting to about 85 million Kuwaiti Dinars (equivalent to US$ 290 million).

(Source: KFAED)

Hope Bus for At-Risk Kids in Iraq

The Iraqi Children Foundation intervenes in the lives of children who are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation by criminals, human traffickers, and extremists. Street lawyers offer legal protection to orphans, street kids, and children displaced by conflict. Social workers provide help with trauma, health care, abuse, and child labor.

Now, a brand new mobile center – the “HOPE BUS” – offers tutoring, nutritious meals, psychosocial care, life lessons, and fun to at-risk kids.

Challenge

At the end of the Iraq War, there were an estimated 800,000 orphans. Approximately 1.4 million kids were displaced by ISIS violence.

Thousands of kids work, some begging or selling items on the streets, collecting cans at trash dumps. or working in other risky jobs. Many suffer from trauma and lack key legal documents to go to school and get food or other benefits. These kids are at great risk of abuse, neglect, and exploitation by criminals, extremists, and human traffickers

Solution

The street lawyers work closely with neighborhood leaders, police, and judges to defend kids who are arrested. They get legal documents for kids to go to school and get food and other benefits. Social workers address issues of trauma, healthcare, abuse and neglect, and help families start small businesses so kids can stop working at the dump or begging.

Now, the new HOPE BUS delivers tutoring, nutrition, trauma care, and fun to these children!

Long-Term Impact

Street lawyers, social workers, and HOPE BUS teachers change lives. Ahmed (16), who lost his dad to a suicide bombing, was arrested for a stealing a motorbike he used to deliver food as the family breadwinner.

A street lawyer proved the bike was stolen before Ahmed bought it and he was released to support his family. A social worker helped rescue orphan Noor (13) by dissuading an aunt from marrying her off for money and helping them start a home business.

Now the HOPE BUS joins the mission!

Additional Documentation

This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).

Please click here to help us reach our goal!

Iraq to Shut Down Internet to Stop Exam Cheats

By John Lee.

The Iraqi government is reportedly temporarily suspend internet connections across the country to stop school pupils cheating during exams.

According to media reports, this is the third consecutive year that this will happen.

The internet is expected to be blocked for two hours each morning during the two-week exam period.

(Sources: Al Jazeera, The Independent)

(Picture: Internet, from ViewVie/Shutterstock)

In Iraqi Kurdistan, Exam Questions Sold for $100

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

By Saman Omer.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, Final Exam Questions Sold for $100, Posted On Facebook

As Iraqi Kurdish students prepared to take final exams, many found they could read all about the upcoming tests online and cheat if they wished. But where were the stolen exams coming from?

At the end of May, around 230,000 students in senior grades in Iraqi Kurdistan started taking final exams. The grades these young people in the semi-autonomous northern region get, will play a major role in their futures – so the tests are important.

The exams, held on May 27, start at 8.30 in the morning and as they do, the local authorities have been known to interrupt Internet access. This is supposedly so that students who already finished their exams and leave the examination rooms don’t get to circulate the questions or any advice to those students still working.

The students are handed the exam questions in an envelope. On the outside of the envelope are written the words: Very Confidential. Unfortunately, this year, that description has been disproven, as exam questions and answers were leaked on local social media accounts – again.

Screenshots showing the exam papers appeared two or so hours before the first exams were taken. Several teachers have complained about it.

“What an English exam!” one teacher, who could only be identified by his initials, BK, posted on Facebook. “The answers were posted two and a half hours before the exam was taken.”

BK posted screen shots from the account that had leaked the exam materials but, perhaps because this is an extremely controversial issue that has been causing problems in Iraqi Kurdistan for years and seen multiple arrests and dismissals, the original account that displayed the materials closed down.

Another teacher in the Juman neighbourhood in Erbil, Tekoshar Hussein, also protested online on June 6, talking about how exam questions were leaking. ”Unfortunately questions are being leaked every day and are being accessed easily by students,” the teacher said.

“The last people who get the exam questions are the teachers and the supervisors of the exam halls,” Hussein told NIQASH, adding that he had seen students showing the answers on their mobile phones to the exam supervisors, shortly before testing was to begin. The students told the supervisors that the answers had been posted, several hours before the exam.

NIQASH’s correspondent decided to try and find out more and befriended or liked several of the Facebook pages known to dispense the cheating exam answers. This meant staying awake almost all night. It’s common knowledge among the students that the pages will post the illicit information in the very early morning, just before the exams, so that the education authorities don’t get a chance to change anything.

On the night of June 5, questions for a senior school chemistry exam were published and on the night of June 6, the questions for a senior school English exam were published on the Facebook and Instagram pages. Both showed up on Facebook two or so hours before the exams were due to take place and before the Internet services were throttled. After they were posted, the leaked exams were then circulated by different students on social media.

Screenshots of the information that was posted were later compared to the government-issued exams after the tests had taken place: They were genuine, the questions were all identical.

NIQASH then contacted the various different sites that had posted the exams to help students cheat. Given the sensitivity of the material, it was difficult to get any answers from those managing the Facebook pages and Instagram accounts involved. However eventually one of the Facebook supervisors agreed to talk, after being promised anonymity.

“We have a relationship with a person who sends us the exam questions on Viber,” the page supervisor told NIQASH. “We pay them US$100, or we send credits to their phone. That’s how we got the questions.”

Asked more about who they were getting the questions from, the page supervisor only replied: “We are in Kurdistan and everything is possible.” No further details were given.

NIQASH also questioned a number of students, all on condition of anonymity. One said he had received questions from maths and English exams from a teacher, via Facebook Messenger. “The teacher did this to ensure that myself and some of my friends would get good grades in the exams,” he explained.

Another older student said he was part of a special Facebook group that had been set up specifically so that exam questions could be circulated among the members. He received the exam questions he needed at 6am on the morning of the exam. At first, he didn’t take them seriously, he says because he thought it was either a joke or a plan to deceive cheaters. But when he eventually took the test, he found that almost all of the questions in his maths exam were the same as the ones he had seen online earlier.

A further 18-year-old student told NIQASH she had heard about the leaked questions and she had heard many rumours. She says she also had the opportunity to look at them but she did not – because she was too busy studying. That may have been wise – there were certainly also old exam questions and materials that had nothing to do with this year’s tests online too.

Local education authorities’ rules say that an education department representative from each district gets the exam questions in a sealed, signed envelope about three or four hours before the testing begins. The representative then delivers the questions to examination halls and exam supervisors at 8.30am.

This means the questions must be being leaked between being given to the district representatives and their delivery to premises where exams will be held. But one might also speculate that the leaks are made at certain times to deflect suspicions from one group or cast them on another one.

This isn’t the first time that exam questions have been leaked in Iraq, or in Iraqi Kurdistan. In 1994, a whole grade had to repeat their exams because of this. It is common practice for the government to turn off Internet servers during exams. And two years ago 77 people were fired from their jobs in education in Iraqi Kurdistan – including senior managers and teachers – and some were even arrested. Exams were not retaken in that case.

The local education ministry is very sensitive about the subject.

Of course we know about the leaks, admits Shirko Hama Amin, an Iraqi Kurdish politician who sits on the education committee in the regional parliament. “But we haven’t spoken to the media about it as yet because we are worried about the students’ state of mind. But we have submitted all the evidence to the ministry of education and we will meet with the responsible ministers and with the exam supervisors about this topic,” Hama Amin told NIQASH.

At the moment, education officials are not confirming anything though. “No questions have leaked and we reject these accusations,” Karim Dizayee, the official supervising exams in Iraqi Kurdistan, told NIQASH. “There could be some irresponsible teacher who took photos of the exam questions and then posted them online, while the students were actually taking the tests,” he suggests. But that is all.

Once the politicians and the supervisors meet, if any wrong doing is confirmed, then it will be up to local prosecutors to decide how much further this goes.

Of course, his office will be investigating, says Dildash Fayez, a spokesperson for the public prosecutor’s office. “But even if we do find evidence of leaks, the exams will not be held again,” Fayez concludes. “It would be impossible. But the law will be brought to bear on those who were behind the leaks,” he promises.

Cabinet endorses Institutional Performance Management System

Iraq’s Institutional Performance Management System endorsed for implementation across Iraq’s Public Sector

The Council of Ministers has endorsed “Iraq Government-Wide Institutional Performance Management System” for immediate application across public sector institutions in Iraq. The system is a non-prescriptive business excellence framework for organizational management, designed to help organizations to become more competitive.

It provides a framework that allows public sector institutions to determine their current level of excellence and identify areas for improvement.

With the technical assistance provided by Iraq Public Sector Modernization Program under UNDP, who shared international best practices and standards, the system was developed by the Council of Ministers Secretariat (CoMSEC), in consultation with key Iraqi stakeholders, including the Federal Board for Supreme Audit (FBSA).

The system design was guided by the “European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM)” standards. It was first piloted during the second half of the 2017 in the ministries of Electricity, Youth & Sports and Trade.  Lessons learned from the pilot were used to further refine the model for the implementation throughout the public sector.

UNDP Iraq supported the Government of Iraq’s preparedness to implement this innovative performance management system through a major capacity development program, which concluded on the 22nd of March, 2018.  This program benefited a total of 142 staff from 21 federal ministries and CoMSEC who received training in the fundamentals and procedures of the institutional performance management.

The Government of Iraq’s institutional capacity was further strengthened through the specialized training of a team of 20 Iraqi staff from CoMSEC and FBSA who will be leading the implementation of the new performance management system.  This team has successfully completed the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Assessor Training (EAT), the internationally recognized standard for performance management.

With this training, the team will be equipped with the skills and knowledge required to effectively assess the public sector institutions in the year 2018 and beyond. Effective public sector management allows the Government to set clear goals, monitoring the activities of the ministries in order to better allow it to expand on successes and correct deficiencies. This helps ensure that all Iraqis are better served by their government.

This nationally-owned and -led initiative falls within the framework of UNDP Public Sector Modernization Program support to Government of Iraq to reinforce its mechanisms for accountability and efficiency, IPSM works to support more efficient, accountable and participatory governance at national and sub-national levels in Iraq.

(Source: UNDP)