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S & T POLICY AND INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: IRAQ UPDATE October 12, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good morning from Manila!

It seems the excitement in Iraq’s S&T is moving to higher pitches, despite the noise and flames of the ensuing war there. The policy environment is getting to be more definitive, and a new state institution is being installed to address S&T research and development needs of the country.

See the exciting news below.

[Writ 06 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to SciDev database news.]

 

New authority and law to push Iraqi research

Wagdy Sawahel

26 September 2008 | EN | 中文

Flickr/rxwarren

Iraq is to establish a scientific research authority (SRA) to promote science and technology research and improve science policy, and will consider a new law offering scientists significant financial benefits.

The SRA was announced by Abd Dhiab al-Ajili, the Iraqi minister for higher education and scientific research last week (15 September).

It will function independently from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR) and have a separate, as yet undisclosed, budget. Its exact start date has yet to be decided.

The authority will oversee all of the science and technology centres associated with universities and have the capacity to fund research directly. It will also prepare science policy reports reviewing subjects including best practice for funding research, measuring the quality of scientific research, and methods for knowledge dissemination.

The SRA will suggest educational programmes and provide analysis for the MHESR on Iraq’s needs to build its scientific and technological capacity. It will also provide advice to the MHESR and university science centres on topics such as ethics, socioeconomic impact, health and environmental concerns and intellectual property rights.

The Iraqi government is also set to consider a new law aiming to persuade scientists, innovators and engineers abroad to return to the country.

Samir Ibrahim Abbas, deputy director-general at the Iraq Ministry of Science and Technology and a member of the ministerial committee preparing the law, says a draft will be ready within six weeks and submitted to the government.

The proposed law also offers incentives to top scientists and innovators working in Iraq.

These include increased salaries — currently on average less than US$1,000 a month — of 300–350 per cent making it equivalent to the Iraqi deputy ministerial salary level. Other benefits include exemption from the mandatory retirement age of 63 years and preferential treatment and reduced prices when buying land for housing.

Abbas says the law will reward different levels of scientists and innovators depending on their scientific achievements.

Scientists would be expected to apply for the benefits, overseen by a central body comprising representatives from scientific committees in different scientific and technological fields who would be responsible for the evaluation and assessment of candidates. 

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IRAQ’S S&T THRUST FOR HIGHER EDUCATION August 11, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Iraq is moving definitely moving forward. After the devastation wrought by the Anglo-American forces in the country, a devastation that continues as warring ethno-religious communities clash with one another for hegemony, Iraq has been saddled with gargantuan problems of rebuilding its S&T base as a prerequisite for reconstructing its economy.

The effort to move forward has been paying off. The thrust on S&T for higher education has been designed and put forward by the stakeholders, with foreign support for the next five (5) years. The ambitious $1 Billion project is reported in the news below.

Enjoy your read.

[27 July 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to SciDev database news.]

Iraq puts forward ambitious higher education plan

Wagdy Sawahel

10 June 2008 | EN | 中文

Iraqi students will benefit from the initiative

Flickr/lakerae

Iraqi officials have proposed a five-year, US$1 billion higher education plan to increase the science and technology workforce and promote science-based sustainable development.

The Iraqi Education Initiative, which would run from 2009–2013, was announced by Zuhair A. G. Humadi, senior advisor to Iraq’s vice president Adil Abdul Mahdi, at the NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference last month (25–30 May) in Washington DC, United States.

Under the plan, which will be financed by revenue generated by Iraq’s oil reserves, university infrastructure will be rebuilt, including new laboratories and establishing Internet connections.

Over the next five years, the plan would see 10,000 students sent abroad each year on full scholarships to earn two-year technical degrees as well as Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral degrees from world class universities in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The degrees would be in a variety of fields including engineering, health, science and technology — to increase the scientific capacity of the country — and education.

As a condition of the scholarship the students must either return to Iraq after completing their degree or repay the government.

The plan was first proposed to Iraq’s parliament on 11 May by prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and is awaiting approval following parliamentary voting in the next three months. Upon final approval, an action plan will be prepared.

Fawzi Al Naima, former dean of the College of Engineering at Nahrain University in Baghdad, Iraq, told SciDev.Net the plan is “essential to put the higher education system in Iraq back on the right track, as it is in desperate need of rehabilitation of the existing universities and the building of new universities”.

Al Naima, who is now working in the Faculty of Telecommunication and Information Engineering at the University of Engineering and Technology Taxila in Pakistan, adds that the initiative should include plans to encourage university professors who have been forced to leave the country to return.