SOUTHEND is playing a key part in helping to rebuild Iraq following the withdrawal of British troops.
Iraqi students are set to flood UK universities and colleges in a bid to lay the foundations for the reconstruction of the country which has suffered years of dictatorship and war.
Southend Adult Community College is one of eight UK colleges and organisations involved in the Rawabit partnership project. Groups of principals, followed by deputies, heads of department and lecturers, have spent weeks learning about the colleges.
Those taking part in the project aim to take something back to Iraq by supporting their counterparts with new courses set up in the country. Ali Hadawi, principal of the adult college in Ambleside Drive, said: “The thinking behind it is to build on the capabilities of the Iraqi vocational and training sectors to respond to the needs of the country and to be a force for positive change in building the new Iraq.
“We have been working on this for the past five years with our Iraqi counterparts to build leadership and management and to show how we interact with local employers.”
Iraqi-born Mr Hadawi said the project targeted unemployed people and those who had little chance to succeed under the old Iraq, particularly women who have had no education.
On his recent visits to colleges in Iraq, Mr Hadawi says he has noticed real changes.
He added: “The vocational education and training sectors are very well placed to do this work. Colleges in Iraq have acknowledged the UK has been the most successful in this because we have never approached it with the attitude that they need to be doing this or that.
“We work with them in terms of what they require, then show them what we do in the UK, and leave it up to them to work out what’s best for them.”
The scheme has focused on employment initiatives such as enlisting businesses, such as the Rafidane Bank, to provide work experience, so newly-qualified students have some idea about the work they might eventually do.
This year, 500 Iraqi students will be coming to Britain under a new scholarship scheme, and thousands more will follow.
The scholarship scheme aims to send 10,000 Iraqis a year to universities and colleges in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.