( I wrote this late at night on Wednesday April 22nd, but was just able to publish this now due to travel back to the U.S. )
Pretty late and have to get up in about 1.5 hours, so I’ll keep this update brief 🙂
A few big themes for today from our meetings with Universities and President Talabani:
– Over reliance on looking for jobs in the gov’t vs private sector.
– Professors and Deans acknowledged that Iraqi gov’t won’t be able to hire 30-40% of these students.
– A near total disconnect between recent grads, alumni and the actual university. In Iraq there is a ministry for nearly everything, and the faculty of the University admitted that jobs were “not our duty” since a ministry of labor employment ( I believe ) is in charge of that.
– The University of Baghdad has about 80,000 undergrad students, and the incoming freshman class is around 12,000.
– Lots of chatter about how the sanctions in the 90s really impacted the various technology labs of these schools – forcing many of them to shut down.
– Huge brain-drain post 2003 of smart post-doc students to neighboring countries and Western countries.
– Faculty admits that students today are told what to study based on their secondary school scores, and not based on their interests.
– When I was chatting with Comp Sci students I tried to get a sense as to how involved they were with web apps, open source, etc. It seems that most dev work was happening in Visual Studio and and some web dev in .NET including this site that one female engineering student had built: www.itswtech.org
– Meeting with President Talabani was pretty interesting. He lives in the former palace of Sadaam’s First Lady. As in most of our meetings we had traditional coffee and tea.
– As we were leaving the meeting with Talabani, he was set to meet with Bashar Al-Asad of Syria.
I’ll be posting in the next few days more of a summary and “sights & sounds”. Plus new photos up here