Monday, June 21, 2004

Education Reform in Iraq Goes Awry

An Educator Learns the Hard Way (

"The universities needed $1.2 billion to become viable centers of learning and reap immediate goodwill for the American rebuilding effort. But of the $18.6 billion U.S. reconstruction package approved by Congress last year, the higher education system received $8 million, a tiny fraction of his proposal. When Agresto asked the U.S. Agency for International Development for 130,000 desks, he got 8,000."

The article later states, "after receiving reports from each of the country's 22 universities, whose collective enrollment is more than 375,000, CPA number crunchers estimated that Iraq would need $1.2 billion to "take its rightful place in the world's intellectual, cultural, economic, and political communities."

"Agresto (the CPA higher education czar) and his staff of 10 sent funding requests to the CPA officials who were compiling the administration's aid package. But word came back that the administration would focus its request on rebuilding Iraq's security services and electrical infrastructure. The White House planned to ask Congress for only $35 million for higher education. The rest would have to come from foreign donors.

"Agresto put together what he hoped was a persuasive plea for international aid. It included plans for "a nationwide electronic library network" and a "Western-style graduate business school." "We now have the opportunity to make a new start, and to supply Iraq with, for example, some of the best classrooms, laboratories and libraries possible," the CPA wrote in its pitch to donors.

"At the conference in October, donor nations pledged in excess of $400 million for Iraqi universities. But none of that money has arrived in Baghdad."

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