UNESCO expands Quality Assurance to all Iraqi universities: The self-managed process for quality improvement
In another groundbreaking initiative to promote innovation and good practices in Iraqi universities, UNESCO and the Ministries of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Baghdad and Erbil are joining efforts to support engineering colleges in all public and polytechnics universities in adapting the most recent processes of Quality Assurance.
Following the success of the pilot Quality Assurance project in 12 initial universities over the three previous years and under the request of the central Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, UNESCO is expanding this process to 12 additional universities, hence, covering all engineering universities in the country.
After a first workshop last October, UNESCO and both Ministries in Baghdad and Erbil organized a 4-days workshop in Erbil gathering more than 35 participants from the different branches of the Higher education sector in the country, including Quality Assurance Adviser Dr. Nabeel Al-A’araji, representing the Minister of Higher education and Scientific Research in Baghdad; 2 key ministry focal managers; Deans and Quality assurance officers from 10 colleges of engineering belonging to 10 central universities, namely universities of Nahrain, Babil, Missan, Qadissiyah, Tikrit, Kirkuk, Thi-Qar, Kerbala, Diyala, Wasit; and the two polytechnics universities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.
Held for the period of 3-6 February 2014, under the title “Quality Assurance Is a Self-Reflective Process”, this workshop was facilitated by UNESCO experts from various international universities, including UCD (Dublin), Buckingham University (UK); Missouri Science & Technology (USA), and Swinburne of Technology (Australia). The workshop provided quality assurance officers and Quality Assurance committees’ members in 12 more universities with an intensive training on the system and processes of Quality assurance, including self-assessment techniques. Additionally, participants were introduced to the materials and tools needed to set the suitable quality assurance' cycle that should be implemented in their colleges of engineering, as they were also guided through the process of finalizing the Self-Assessment Report, one of the main mechanism to initiate this modernizing and change process.
"Launching the Quality assurance process in Higher education institutions and planning for quality improvement is very similar to strategic planning: it's an organizational and learning process based on assessing the needs of various stakeholders, as well as benchmarking", stated Mrs. Semia Ben Ali Saadaoui, the senior project officer at UNESCO. Mrs. Saadaoui also emphasized that "building on a critical approach with rigor, constancy and sustainability, are the essential factors for the success of the quality assurance process".
In parallel of its emergency interventions to respond to the most urgent needs in the field of education in Iraq, UNESCO is implementing various projects to promote quality education. Within the project of “Rehabilitation of Iraq’s Higher Education System”, UNESCO is assisting the Ministries of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Baghdad and Kurdistan Region to establish a cutting-edge and higher quality system to improve the academic and institutional performance of higher education institutions, and the global educational scheme in the country. Integrating quality assurance is considered to be a main pillar in this operation, and one of UNESCO's key objectives as it will allow a self-initiated and self-monitored improvement that will help restoring the qualified human capital, eventually affecting all economic and social fields.
Another main outcome of this programme was the launch of a dedicated website compiling the complete resources for quality assurance: www.qahei.org
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