Pursuant to the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq, the fourth meeting of the Iraq-U.S. Cultural and Educational Cooperation Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) convened in Baghdad, Iraq, on March 6, 2014. The Committee last met in December 2012 in Baghdad. Iraqi Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Ali Al-Adeeb and U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Kelly Keiderling co-chaired the meeting.
Both countries welcomed the significant progress in all areas of educational and cultural cooperation and agreed to continue to increase linkages between the United States and Iraq through joint efforts in education, cultural heritage, and people-to-people exchanges.
Academic cooperation remains a key element of building a strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Iraq, and both sides reiterated progress in this area. The Open Doors report on student mobility shows that U.S. and Iraqi efforts increased the number of Iraqis studying in the United States by 32.8 percent from the previous academic year. This is the fourth year in a row that the number of Iraqi students studying in the United States has increased by 30 percent or more. U.S. and Iraqi universities and their faculty continue to deepen their collaboration through the Iraq University Linkages Program, as well as U.S. Embassy exchange programs for university faculty development, including the Fulbright Program.
Iraqi government scholarships, the Fulbright Program, the EducationUSA advising network, and the opening of the English Language Center at the Higher Committee for Education Development are all contributing to an increase in the number of Iraqis studying in the United States. The U.S. government helped build the capacity of the Ministry of Education, including improving the Ministry’s ability to conduct student testing and data analysis at the primary and secondary levels. Opportunities to learn English in Iraq are increasing, with 1,000 underserved Iraqi youth throughout the Iraqi provinces studying English through the English Access Microscholarship Program.
U.S.-Iraqi collaboration in the protection and preservation of cultural heritage continues to strengthen through new and established initiatives. A site management plan for the future preservation and sustainability of the ancient site of Babylon nears completion through efforts by the World Monuments Fund and the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage. U.S. support for education in cultural heritage preservation continues with additional educational programs conducted by the University of Delaware and other academic and NGO partners at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil. In 2013, a new university linkage was also established between Mosul University and Boston University to help Iraq reestablish its tradition of excellence in higher education in the fields of archaeology and cultural heritage management. These initiatives are critical for building Iraq’s capacity to preserve and manage its rich cultural heritage.
The delegations noted that people-to-people ties between the United States and Iraq continue to grow stronger. The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, sports exchanges, and other initiatives bring hundreds of Iraqi scholars, students, youth, and professionals to the United States each year. Both sides are looking to encourage more sports exchanges and to share expertise in sports medicine. Frequent cultural programs are promoting common values between both nations.
The delegations stressed the importance of ongoing consultation and information exchange at all levels, and pledged to convene the next JCC meeting in 2015 to assess progress and next steps.