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State of Education in Iraq and Ways to Promote Sustainable Development

The Centre for Kurdish Progress recently hosted a compelling discussion on the state of education in developing countries, with a particular focus on Iraq. The event, held on 15th May 2024, featured a distinguished panel of experts who explored current challenges and potential solutions in the education sector.


Chapka Othman – A pioneer in education, Chapka Othman is renowned for establishing the first British-style education school, which has since burgeoned into a network of seven branches.

Sara Salahaddin – As the CEO of Vision Education, Sara Salahaddin has spearheaded transformative investments in both private and public education sectors. Her endeavours have led to the renovation of hundreds of schools in improved areas of Iraqi Kurdistan and significant contributions to the development of educational institutions.

Tony Breslin – A former National Leader of Governance at the Department of Education, Dr Tony Breslin is an expert voice in the world of education policy. Tony is a teacher by profession, a school improvement adviser and a prolific author. Currently writing a history of education policy in the UK, he is also the author of a critically well-received series of texts that explore the educational impact of lockdown. Tony has been involved in discussions about the nature of education in developing countries for many years and has delivered professional and curriculum development sessions in a variety of international settings.

Mike Wojcik – Chief Executive of Queen Mary University of London’s Student Union. He is an experienced leader within the charitable and higher education sectors. He is also the Chair of Trustees of Education-based Charity YGAM.

Ralph Palmer – the 12th Baron Lucas and a Backbench Conservative Peer in the House of Lords. During his professional life, Lord Lucas was the owner and publisher of the Good Schools Guide, a well-known publication in the UK which celebrates educators and schools throughout the country. Education is one of Lord Lucas’ areas of interest and policy focus within the House of Lords, and he has contributed to many debates and discussions surrounding Education during his time in Parliament.

The panel underscored the potential for mutual growth by leveraging Iraq’s natural resources and Britain’s financial and educational expertise. They emphasized the need for proper teacher training, curriculum reform, and integrating education with industry needs. The discussions highlighted the importance of cultural exchange and the long-term benefits of a well-educated population for sustainable development.

Chapka Othman shared her journey in growing Cambridge International School in Iraq, focusing on the challenges and the crucial role of international collaboration in improving educational standards. She highlights the establishment of Cambridge International School in Iraq, which began as a small project and grew significantly. Her schools now serve around 5,000 students and employ 500 staff members. She underscores the importance of teacher training and the challenges faced due to the lack of proper training facilities in Iraq. Collaboration with the UK is seen as crucial for recruiting qualified teachers and enhancing educational standards.

Tony Breslin provided a nuanced discussion on the balance between achievement and inclusion, the impact of AI on education, and the need for skills-based learning. He outlines ten areas of choice in education, including the balance between achievement and inclusion, the nature of school inspections, and the focus on academic versus vocational training. Breslin emphasizes that education systems must constantly evaluate their purpose and adapt to societal needs.

Mike Varney focused on the importance of listening to students, supporting their mental health, and involving them in community activities. He talks about the importance of authentic student voice, mental health, and the benefits of physical activity and volunteering. Varney also highlights projects aimed at supporting students with disabilities and creating inclusive environments.

Lord Lucas an education critic, stresses the importance of teachers in the education system. He advocates for a teacher training system that focuses on inspiring and guiding students rather than adhering strictly to educational theories. He also discusses the evolving landscape of higher education and the increasing importance of skills-based learning driven by advancements in AI and changes in the job market.

Sara Salahaddin presented an overview of Iraq’s education system, emphasizing the need for increased funding, international support, and connecting education with industry to reduce youth unemployment and illegal migration. She highlights recent efforts by the Iraqi government to increase the education budget and renovate schools. Salan discusses Vision Education’s unique model, which reinvests profits from private institutions into the public sector to promote sustainable development. She emphasizes the need for international collaboration to modernize Iraq’s education system and connect it to industry, thereby reducing youth unemployment and illegal migration.

The event highlighted the multi-faceted approach required to enhance educational standards and economic prospects in Iraq, leveraging the strengths of both Iraq and Britain for mutual benefit. The panel’s insights and shared experiences provided a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the education sector.

Click here to watch the panel!

Click here to access all the photos!


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