The Vicious Cycle of Kurdistan’s Education

By Dr. Bayad Jamal Ali:

Every year at the time that admissions decisions are announced by the public universities we see delighted faces and miserable ones. We see smart, hard-working students disappointed about the college they have been accepted by, and we see an inflation in the grades which now means that, in order to be accepted into medical schools, students need grades of 101 and more!

No doubt many questions and issues are being discussed on a daily basis regarding the higher education system and public universities along with their management. We will cover these issues in future articles and will shed light on just one aspect today: what impact does the public admissions system have on society?

In many third world countries, and Kurdistan is an example, we can see that the highest ambition of children mostly is to grow up to be medical doctors or engineers. The basis for the focus on these two professions — along with the economic incentives — is that the country has often faced wars and diseases and doctors play an important role in helping people in need, while engineers rebuild cities that have undergone many destructions. This focus has led to a neglect of other professions and we can classify students into four main categories.

The education system in Kurdistan creates strange contradictions. The aim of the smartest students, whether they like it or not, is to attend medical schools or engineering colleges on obtaining the highest grades of the year. The second category in the sequence are the students who are accepted into the physics, chemistry, biology and other colleges which mostly generate teachers. The third category are accepted into the schools of law, business and economics, management, and political science; this category does have smart students, but the majority are in this category because of their grades and not through choice. They end up running the affairs of the first and second categories,  especially those who had ‘special admission’ and were exempted from needing the requisite grades.

And the fourth category are the students with the lowest-grade students; they usually join the army, and in many third world countries if they don’t perform a coup they end up running everything behind the scenes. Here we must extend our utmost respect to the Peshmargas of Kurdistan, but we are discussing the higher education system and how it categorizes the society.

I believe that, in many daily discussions in Kurdish society, the issue of having the wrong people in the administration and decision-making posts comes up. However, we don’t tackle the root of the issue: we need to review how we are developing the members of our society and have an action plan and a vision rather than blaming everything else. The insanity is to keep seeing the same mistakes and not doing anything.

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