Monday, August 04, 2003

Higher ed in education-deprived places 

I hear many things about projects reforming higher education in formerly screwed up places like Iraq, as Daniel Drezner discusses today. Beyond infrastructure and security issues, however, is a change in how faculty see themselves in the university.
The next stage of reconstruction will be perhaps the trickier of tasks: depoliticizing the curriculum and reintroducing Iraqi students, scholars and scientists to the broader intellectual community through fellowships, exchanges and conferences. Professors were not able to leave Iraq without signed permission from the minister of higher education. So few did. And they have viewed education as a one-way street in which information is passed onto students, rather than encouraging critical, independent thought and analysis.
In the FSU and the former Yugoslavia much of the same was true. And while there may be some hope here, it requires that universities pay faculty for the work they do in transforming their schools into true places of inquiry. Might I suggest, as a start, that these institutions be privatised?