Joint Statement of the Iraq - U.S. Cultural and Educational Cooperation Joint Coordination Committee
December 18, 2012
Pursuant to the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq, the third meeting of the Iraq-U.S. Cultural and Educational Cooperation Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) convened in Baghdad on December 17, 2012. The Committee last met in February 2012 in Washington, D.C. We have since continued to expand our joint efforts in primary, secondary, and higher education, cultural heritage, and people-to-people exchanges.
Iraqi Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Ali al-Adeeb and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Richard Schmierer co-chaired the meeting. Both countries noted significant progress in all areas of cultural and educational cooperation.
The two sides reiterated the importance of increased academic linkages and exchanges between the United States and Iraq as a key element in building a strong, productive bilateral relationship. The most recent annual Open Doors report on academic mobility, which cited a 31 percent increase in the number of Iraqis studying in the United States in the 2011-2012 school year, is evidence of the progress we are making. Iraqi government scholarship programs, the Fulbright Program, and the EducationUSA educational advising network in Iraq are all contributing to an increase in the number of Iraqis studying in the United States. The Iraqi government aims to send at least 25 percent of its foreign scholarship recipients to U.S. colleges and universities.
At the primary and secondary school level, the Iraqi and U.S. governments are working together to improve instruction as well as the management and monitoring skills of inspectors and supervisors.
In addition, seven U.S. government funded linkages between U.S. and Iraqi universities, as well as higher education cooperation facilitated by the Iraqi government’s February 2012 university conference in Washington, D.C., are bolstering collaboration between U.S. and Iraqi academic institutions.
The ongoing U.S.-Iraqi collaboration with the World Monuments Fund to preserve the ancient site of Babylon is resulting in new site management planning courses for the directors of sites throughout Iraq. These initiatives are critical for building Iraq’s capacity to preserve and manage its rich cultural heritage. U.S. support for training and education in cultural heritage preservation continues with an additional $420,000 grant to expand the architectural and site preservation curriculum at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil.
The delegations noted that people-to-people ties between the United States and Iraq continue to grow stronger. Fulbright Scholarships, the International Visitor Leadership Program, the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, and other initiatives bring hundreds of Iraqi scholars, students, youth, and professionals to the United States each year. Opportunities to learn English in Iraq are increasing, with 1,500 underserved Iraqi youth throughout the Iraqi provinces studying English through the English Access Microscholarship Program. 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 2013 to assess progress and next steps.