Our delegation concluded with the drafting of a work-in-progress framework agreement to help codify what we and the various education, health, and science ministry officials encouraged us to do and share. It appears below and we will focus now on next steps to follow through. We all recognized the importance of keeping the momentum of reform accelerating.
A week ago, my taxicab was approaching the U.S. Capitol. Two congested lanes of traffic and a great deal of police. Routine security inspection from a couple of scowling Capitol Hill police. No one looked suspicious that day.
It is 5:30 am in Mandalay, Myanmar. Our hotel is directly across from the former royal palace and it is a good time for a run. The city has been awake for a while and streetlights are about to go on for an hour or so before dawn. That gave me some pause.
The International Academic Partnerships delegation to Myanmar had an unusual start. A faculty member from Northern Illinois University, Dr. Catherine Raymond, who curates the Burmese art collection there, was bringing back a Buddha sculpture (pictured below) created more than a thousand years ago. At a ceremony marking the return with the Minister of Culture she noted that the event was a "testimony to the efforts many are making to end trafficking in art." Ironically, the sculpture is rare because it depicts the Buddha in the pose emoting rule of law, something that has gone missing in so many places today.
Last week I had the honor of participating at the Qatar Foundation’s WISE Education Leadership Program in Doha, a program that we implement together with the International Association of University Presidents. This program, now in its third year, brings together newly-appointed university presidents, rectors and vice chancellors from developing countries and prepares them to more effectively lead their institutions. This year’s participants came from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iraq, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Palestine, Tanzania, Tunisia, and the Ukraine. They all face common challenges: how to build the capacity of their teaching staff, how to expand access to women, how to develop programs that meet the demands of the job market and that support sustainable national development, and how to operate in fiscal austerity. And some are dealing with the aftermath of war or conflict, and the toll it took on their students and staff.
Over the past twelve months, IIE has been visited by education officials from nearly all of the countries undergoing transformation because of the so-called Arab/Asian Spring. Each has asked similar questions about access to U.S. higher education. There is an urgent need to provide education for an entire generation (or two) that has been largely isolated. Questions abound about how to apply to U.S. colleges and universities, how to obtain scholarships, and how to bring their English language skills up to acceptable levels.
The cardinal rule of real estate (“location, location, location”) just acquired new meaning for me. In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, there is the usual “sponsored section” paid for by the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA). There are now more than 60 such schools and programs; the majority are located in the United States. In the section, each school that contributed to the ad got a page to explain why they were relevant and what is distinctive about their faculty.