Iraq Education & Technology Summit (IETS) 23-24 February 2013, Hyatt Regency Dubai Hotel, UAE

Day One Report, 23 February 2013

Professor Mohamed Al-Rubeai, Chairman of the Network of Iraqi Scientists Abroad (NISA) and Day One Conference Chair

Following registration and morning coffee, the Iraq Education & Technology Summit officially began on Saturday 23rd February with an Opening Ceremony at 8:55am consisting of Mr. Christopher Higgins, CEO of CWI Summits, the Summits’ Conference Chair Professor Mohamed Al-Rubeai, Chairman of the Network of Iraqi Scientists Abroad (NISA) and Mr. Jamil Ezzo, Director General  of the ICDL GCC Foundation. Mr. Ezzo began proceedings by stressing the importance of ICT regarding electronic transformation in the education sector; ICDL will aid Iraq in its efforts to keep pace with development. Mr. Ezzo went on to enforce the fact that this Summit should be used as a platform to spring-board developments and thanked the Ministry officials, sponsors and international businesses in attendance for their valuable support. Prof. Al-Rubeai thanked the audience for their commitment to drive education and higher education across Iraq and also thanked CWI Summits for giving NISA the opportunity to Chair such a prestigious event. He went on to give a detailed overview of NISA and emphasised the real opportunity for Iraq to lead education across the Middle East. Prof. Al-Rubeai then went on to introduce the Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research ahead of H.E. Minister Ali Al-Adeeb’s Keynote Address. Mr. Higgins brought the Opening Ceremony to a close by sincerely thanking the Summits’ sponsors for their extremely valuable support, the Government of the Republic of Iraq for their faith and commitment to the event and wished everyone involved an enjoyable, productive and fruitful two days.

H.E. Mr. Ali Al-Adeeb, Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research (MoHESR)

Following the Opening Ceremony, H.E. Mr. Ali Al-Adeeb, Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research (MoHESR) gave a Keynote Address where he began by thanking both the Summit organisers and delegates for meeting in Dubai for direct talks with Iraqi officials working in the fields of education, science and technology. H.E. Al-Adeeb stressed the need for private-sector involvement as Iraq looks to keep pace with education and technology developments; the Summit is key to providing this close collaboration and the MoHESR has taken great strides recently to ensure this occurs. H.E. Al-Adeeb sighted the Summit as a huge opportunity for the private-sector representatives to exchange dialogue and more with the key ministry officials in attendance, he wished everyone well for the two days and welcomed open discussions as the best way to move forward.

Mr. Ali Musa’ad Al-Ibrahimi, Deputy Minister of Education (MoE)

Immediately following H.E. Mr. Ali Al-Adeeb, Mr. Ali Musa’ad Al-Ibrahimi, Deputy Minister of Education (MoE) also gave a Keynote Address where he officially welcomed the audience and thanked everyone involved for their unwavering support to further Iraq’s efforts for world leading education and technology. Mr. Al-Ibrahimi gave a brief overview of the Ministry of Education and stressed its importance with over 8 million students relying on Iraq adopting the latest methods of teaching and ICT technologies and sighting this as key to Iraq’s long-term economic stability.

Following these opening addresses, the Summits’ first expert panel got underway. The Overview of Education in Iraq; Vision & Challenges panel was chaired by Mr. Andrew Short, GEMS Education Solutions Director, Middle East and North Africa and consisted of Dr. Abdul Salam Al-Jammas, Director General, Reconstruction & Projects of the Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research, Ms. Reem Al-Bustani, National Program Officer, Higher Education Team of UNESCO – Iraq and Dr. Basima Alwan Hussein, Director of Investment Budget at the Ministry of Education.
Ms. Reem Al-Bustani, National Program Officer, Higher Education Team of UNESCO – Iraq

Dr. Al-Jammas  gave great detail of the development needed across Iraq through 2022 since progress in education is not in keeping with Iraq’s evolving population and worldwide technologies. The Ministries strategy towards development has changed recently i.e. focusing on public-private sector partnerships (PPP’s) with a budget of $10billion set aside to fund a 5 year plan of significant projects that Summit delegates would be first to learn about during the afternoon roundtable meetings. The MoHESR are now adopting international investment laws to ensure that private-sector companies are protected accordingly and the vast business opportunities across the country are fulfilled to absolute potential. Ms. Al-Bustani, on behalf of Ms. Semia Saadaoui, Higher Education Project Manager (sadly unable to attend personally), gave an engaging address on ‘UNESCO’s Support to the Development of Iraq’s Higher Education System’. She gave a detailed overview of UNESCO and how the United Nations organisation has been mandated with higher education for Iraq in-line with its mission to build peace, eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development via education and the sciences. UNESCO-Iraq focuses on providing information and capacity to empower stakeholders to make better informed decisions, protect students from inadequate learning resources and low-quality provisions, and promote capacity building at the regional and national levels. Since 2011 there have been huge efforts towards the rehabilitation of Iraq’s Higher Education System via four overarching pillars: quality assurance – management, leadership & governance – scientific research & innovation – virtual learning; these are how the $40.5million support projects are being implemented.

Our opening panel was closed with a brief Question & Answer Session where unstructured queries were taken from the audience and responded to by the expert panellists.

Dr. Brian A. Shott, Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy Baghdad
All Summit participants then enjoyed a brief networking refreshment break, providing valuable time for attendees to network with other participants and follow-up with speakers before we moved to our second expert panel of the Summit, entitled Infrastructure & Major Projects which was chaired by Mr. Thanos Blintzios, Managing Director, E. Europe, Middle East, & Africa ofMCGRAW HILL and included Dr. Mohammed Al-Saraj, Director General, Research & Development of the Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research, Dr. Brian A. Shott, Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy Baghdad and Dr. Nayef Thamer Hussein, Director General of Planning at the Ministry of Education (MoE).
Dr. Nayef Thamer Hussein, Director General of Planning at the Ministry of Education (MoE)

Dr. Al-Saraj again stressed the importance of the MoHESR’s project aims to adopt challenging and promising programs & projects for the development of higher education in all aspects of education and research. Such plans are to be divided into three main themes: vertical axis expansion and development of the educational process – encourage the return of competencies and the development & rehabilitation of teaching staffs and employees of the ministry – expand the geographical reach of higher education. Colossal budgets have been set aside for the already discussed PPP’s that are key to Iraq’s long-term education and technology development; projects include health in 2012, scientific institutes in 2013, widespread projects to develop the use of the English language across Iraq’s education system, enhance pupil capabilities within Iraq and ultimately invest Iraq’s own intellectual property in the countries future. Dr. Shott gave details on a project where Iraqis go to the States for 10 weeks, study at university with American students and both parties learn valuable information and lessons from each other. He also presented details of the Linkages project between universities in the States and Iraq partner together and study jointly. They also have education advisers that increase student numbers from abroad in both the States and Iraq, always working to strengthen relations between the two countries; there was a 33% increase of Iraqis studying in the States from 2011-12 to 2012-13. Dr. Shott closed by detailing some of the challenges being faced such as the decentralisation of the U.S. system, administration criteria, standardising test, English language abilities and the inevitable culture shock. Dr. Nayef Thamer Hussein started his address with a passionate and heartfelt message regarding Iraq’s past and highlighting the potential for Iraq’s education, science and technology sectors through events such as this and the much needed PPP’s. Dr. Hussein’s planning department is a recent creation with three previous departments merging and their initial focus is on school buildings and how the many thousands need modernizing & developing; the reconstruction/renovation of some 5500+ school buildings is planned for 2013 alone. The MoE’s planning departments secondary focus will be on e-governance where huge budgets have been set aside for the development of ICT across Iraq’s government ensuring that best-of-breed education and technologies are available to Iraq’s pupils.

The Infrastructure & Major Projects panel was closed with a brief Question & Answer Session where unstructured queries were taken from the audience and responded to by the expert panellists.
Immediately following panel two, we moved directly to the Summit’s third and final expert panel of the opening morning. TheIncreasing ICT Use in Education panel was chaired by Mr. Jamil Ezzo, Director General of the ICDL GCC Foundation and consisted of Dr. Bahaa Kadhum, Director General, Scholarships & Cultural Relations of the Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research, Mr. Imad Raouf, Director of Research & Industrial Development at the Ministry of Science & Technology and Mr. Kenneth Holland, Dean at the Center for International Development; Ball State University.
Mr. Imad Raouf, Director of Research & Industrial Development at the Ministry of Science & Technology

Dr. Kadhum presented the logical linkages between technology and education; the evolution of ICT and the effect on the education system. He gave details of traditional teaching methods versus extended instructions through the use of technology and Dr. Kadhum played a video of an MIT dean using technology to teach students in a very engaging manner, helping pupils to learn rather than making them listen! Dr. Kadhum highlighted the great need for increased personal computer use across the Middle East and also detailed the large numbers of Iraq government funded scholarships/exchanges showing photos and giving examples where ICT blend is being sought to enhance education. Mr. Imad Raouf of the MoST presented great detail regarding requirements to enhance education through technology for example, improved fibre optics, greater access to public IP addresses etc. Mr. Raouf stressed that pupils will go on and be expected to use high-tech solutions so they must be taught as such, advancing the students and Iraq’s intellectual property accordingly. Mr. Raouf closed by encouraging the audience to learn from the likes of Korea where a centralised department will aid such significant plans for Iraq’s education, science and technology sectors. Mr. Kenneth Holland closed the days final plenary panel by presenting ‘The Potential of Direct Videoconferencing as a Means of Linking Iraqi Universities to the World’ and reiterating the importance of the Linkages project that Dr. Shott had mentioned earlier in the morning and highlighted how Dr. Kadhum is a key contributor to the project’s success. Mr. Holland went on to highlight how video conferencing is creating lasting relationships, providing cheaper teaching and for longer periods however, challenges regarding technology i.e. equipment and reliable bandwidth across Iraq remained and needed to be overcome; “the potential is huge and it can be realised”.

The final expert panel of the Summits’ opening day was also closed with a brief Question & Answer Session where unstructured queries were taken from the audience and responded to by the expert panellists.
Following the morning addresses given throughout the three expert panels, all Summit participants enjoyed a Networking Luncheon in the Focaccia Restaurant providing everyone with more valuable networking time in a relaxed

Public-Private Sector Roundtable Meetings

and enjoyable setting. The first day of the Summit then moved into the first of two afternoon roundtable meeting sessions where private-sector representatives had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the Summits’ official delegation. This hugely productive format saw some 20 roundtables hosted by the official delegation from the MoHESR, MoE and MoST, where Summit delegates were able to discuss in greater detail the business opportunities that suited their organisation and how they would like to aid in the development of education and scientific technology across Iraq. Close to 200 meetings were held across the three hours whilst an extra roundtable was set-up for the Universities (MoHESR) to cater for additional demand from Summit delegates.

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