On Monday, July 12th, the IIE Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education hosted a roundtable in Washington, DC to celebrate the release of Innovation Through Education: Building the Knowledge Economy in the Middle East, the fourth volume in a series of Global Education Research Reports published by IIE with the support of the AIFS Foundation.
Academics, embassy representatives, researchers, university officials and other Middle East and international education experts were invited to discuss a number of relevant topics, key among them new initiatives in the Middle East to build human capacity through increased access to higher education; the role of global education in building the knowledge economy in the Middle East; education as a central feature of national development policies; and academic exchange between Middle Eastern countries and the United States.
Roundtable attendees examined current and relevant issues, such as challenges in education related to the region's youth bulge, youth unemployment and young people's desire to migrate abroad. The region is in need of approximatley 100 million new jobs to satisfy the growing population and the discussion revealed diverse opinions on how to create these opportunities. Some participants expressed the concern that mass employment schemes could be effective in the short-term but ignore long-term needs, while others discussed the merits of focusing on value creation and entrepreneurship. Roundtable participants also talked about the notion of a talent pyramid in which talent drives innovation which in turn propels enterprise creation. Furthermore, the group discussed U.S. resources, including Title VI programs and the roles of the government, private sector and the community college model.
Robert Ayan of Cambridge Advisors, LLC addressed the assembled group which included Andre Lewis, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the International and Foreign Language Education at the U.S. Department of Education; Sylvia Crowder, Branch Chief for International Education Program Service at the U.S. Department of Education; Steven Pappas, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education; Fanta Aw, Assistant Vice President of Campus Life at American University; Jerome Bookin-Weiner, Director of Study Abroad and Outreach at AMIDEAST; Colin Davies, Director Capacity Building Services at World Learning; Soraya Eftekhari, Adviser for Iran at EducationUSA; William Fish, President at Washington International Education Council; Gail Hochhauser, Board Member at the AIFS Foundation and Senior Director at NAFSA; Mark Overmann, Assistant Director at the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange; Arlene Jackson from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; Ron Raphael, Higher Education Officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development; Alan Ruby, Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Education of the University of Pennsylvania; Zhala Sabir, Director of Congressional and Academic Affairs at the Kurdistan Regional Government; Donna Scarboro, Associate Vice President of International Programs at George Washington University; and Ian Wilhelm, Associate Editor for the Global Edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.