English UK and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have agreed to work together on several schemes to develop English language teaching, including for the most talented students on the region's prestigious postgraduate degree programme.
A Memorandum of Co-Operation, which runs for two years, was signed by English UK chief executive Tony Millns and the Kurdistan Regional Government's Higher Education minister Ali Saeed Mohammad during a trade delegation last week. English UK member centres, some of which have already been involved in the organisation's two official delegations to the region, will now be developing active partnerships.
Kurdistan's Human Capacity Development Programme (HCDP) has an annual budget of US $120m a year until at least 2014, and is sending thousands of students on Masters and PhD courses outside Iraq. Of the students already abroad, 65 per cent are in the UK. Other areas where English UK and the KRG have agreed to work together include the development of the English Language teaching sector in Kurdistan, teacher training and capacity building.
Signing the document, Tony Millns said that he had been very impressed by the progress made by the Kurdistan region, and even more impressed by the Government's plans for the future including their focus on English Language teaching and higher education in the UK for the HCDP.
"We are really delighted to sign this document. The main thing is that the KRG is working closely with English UK in defining and solving its English language requirements both in terms of qualifying teachers in Kurdistan and sending students to the UK," he said.
The agreement, co-signed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, provides a framework for collaboration and the sharing of information around English language teaching. English UK, it says, "will provide support, information and expertise to the Ministry of Higher Education and the HCDP Committee in the area of English language teaching and access to the best of the UK's English language teaching sector."
The Ministry and the HCDP Committee will provide "support, information and expertise" to English UK for developing opportunities in the KRG scholarship programme for the UK's English language teaching sector.
The first joint project will see English UK helping in the compilation of a list of UK-based English language teaching centres approved for HCDP scholars.