Please scrap qualifications that have no value

By Mufid Abdulla:

Recently in the city of Sulaymani, 9,000 students applied for unemployment benefit because they could not get jobs. Young people all over Kurdistan face a daunting labor market and university qualifications are critically important to their job prospects. However, Kurdistan’s education system has ignored labor market realities and is failing in its duty to prepare this generation for accomplishments beyond the academic world.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has created a system of education in which the self-interest of the universities and the interests of young people have diverged. Universities are under no pressure to do well and that is the reason why, on graduation, so many students are ill-equipped even though they may have read many books. In recent years, for some reason every town and city in the south of Kurdistan has seen the building of universities and colleges. But this has been done without evidence of sound education strategy or even consideration for such matters as who is available to give the lectures. I strongly believe that opening universities for the sake of it has not helped create an educated generation that could have built Kurdistan from scratch. It would have been better if we could have used home-grown talent instead of inviting Turkish companies to build our houses, bridges, schools and so on.

I believe that the vast number of qualifications (such as degrees, MScs and PhDs) approved by Kurdistan universities are unrealistic. These qualifications have not met the necessary tough criteria to ensure they can lead to meaningful employment. Universities in Kurdistan should not offer any qualification without labor market or career progression value.

During several recent visits to Kurdistan, I have noticed that the only people in full-time employment are those who have graduated abroad. Employers in Sulaymani or Erbil, for example, could not care less about the qualifications of young people who have graduated inside Kurdistan. The main skills looked for by employers these days are maths, English, Arabic and computing: all of these are lacking in any degrees or other qualifications in Kurdistan.

There is no reason whatsoever why our students should not be encouraged to develop vocational skills. However, our higher education minister (who should know better, having graduated in the UK) is encouraging universities to offer qualifications that were never designed to meet the needs of the market. This only compounds the problem.

Our young 17 and 18 year old students need qualifications that are respected in our community and that develop general skills and help career progression. We need to scrap qualifications that will ill serve them in the real world.

Copyright © 2012

One Response to Please scrap qualifications that have no value
  1. Azad Ezzat
    March 9, 2012 | 02:56

    Very well said.

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