Prime Minister Barzani: Science is key to our progress

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq ( – Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani stressed that the only way for a nation to prosper and move forward is by expanding and deepening its education in various academic disciplines.”

He made the statement in his speech at the ceremony held to award Professor Caucher Birkar an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Salahaddin. Dr Caucher received the Fields Medal, the highest honor in mathematics, in 2018.

Below is the transcript of Prime Minister Barzani’s speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you all and, especially, I warmly welcome Dr. Caucher Birkar. I commend the University of Salahaddin and its president Dr Ahmed Dizayee for awarding Professor Caucher Birkar an honorary doctorate degree.

Today, I am pleased for two reasons. Surely, the first reason is that Dr. Caucher is present here with us today. Secondly, it is time we proceed to a normal, civilized lifestyle after being distracted by so much war and hardship.

We should never forget that the only way for a nation to prosper and move forward is by expanding and deepening its education in various academic disciplines. As individuals, and as a society, we should know that a bright future is only possible through seeking knowledge, understanding, and creativity.

The people of Kurdistan, wherever they may be, take pride in their scholars, academics, or scientists who propel their homeland forward in various domains of education and research, and spearhead the process of modernisation of their society. This is an outstanding endeavor that is equally important for politicians to achieve for their nation. While Kurdistan boasts of the Peshmerga and other courageous members of our nation, we also look toward scholarly competence that engages, educates, and empowers our people.

With the support of his family, we know Dr. Caucher relied on his personal motivation and efforts to be awarded the renowned Fields Medal in mathematics. The valuable lesson here is for our youth to rely more on themselves. Excuses and criticism will not solve the problems we face. Time passes quickly and we need to be diligent in using our time effectively to learn and apply ourselves.

Despite economic constraints, the Kurdistan Regional Government has always put education as a top priority. The Kurdistan Region today accommodates 30 universities with tens of thousands of students and thousands of faculty members.

Surely, we do not claim that everything is perfect and there are no deficiencies. I urge students and lecturers to seize every opportunity and not waste any time during this unique phase in the life of Iraqi Kurdistan. In the pursuit of knowledge and critical understanding, students and faculty should work day and night. As an honored member of our nation, we see Dr Caucher as a prime role model of diligence and success.

Our students should pay warm tributes to our late distinguished poets such as Khani, Qanni’, Peeramerd, and Bekas who urged us to seek knowledge. Also, we should feel deeply proud when we look at the portraits of our great national leaders such as Shiekh Mahmood, Qazi Muhammed, and Barzani, those who sacrificed everything for us and our future.

We as the KRG have always regarded universities and other educational institutions as priority, even during times when Kurdistan Region was under a severe double economic embargo [1991 – 2003]. Before the formation of the KRG, university admission was a dream. Today, most households include students and graduates.

The objective of students should be acquiring knowledge and higher scientific level, and not only seeking to obtain a diploma or certificate.

Here, today, I urge the heads of all our public and private universities to endeavour to make the Kurdistan Region a leading example of an education system. This is our real struggle. We can realise the dreams of our ancestors through education and knowledge.

In the past, not only have we been blessed with many great political leaders, we also have had many scholars, intellectuals, and artists. When we examine the history of science and culture written in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish languages, we see many names from Kurdistan.

Though we are proud of our mutual history with our neighbors, the contributions of Kurdistan scholars are too often attributed to other nations that have attained global recognition. Today, the Kurdistan Region is a legal entity known to the global community and in the future will be further defined.  This mission cannot be achieved only by politicians and Peshmerga alone. You in the schools and institutions of higher education are equally important in attaining this goal.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wanted to be here to make these remarks. I am very pleased to meet Dr. Caucher Birkar, for whom we specially gather here today.

I would like to congratulate the people of Kurdistan among whom a successful scholar like Professor Caucher Birkar, has emerged. I am certain that every individual in Kurdistan takes special pride in his success.

My sincere congratulations to Dr. Caucher for all his scholarly achievements and his well-earned awards. I would like to congratulate Dr. Caucher’s esteemed family for everything they have done. Our nation is proud to be gifted with such talent. With scholarly achievement he has greatly served his nation and country. I want to recite a quote from late US President John F. Kennedy:  ”Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

I congratulate the people of Kurdistan for all our universities, students, and faculty. This great improvement and achievement should be appreciated.

I want to commend the Ministry of Education and its Minister Dr Pishtiwan Sadiq for their efforts in enabling Kurdistan to participate in Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2022. This study, which is conducted every four years, will evaluate our education system.

My greetings to you all, particularly heads of universities, students, faculty, and public servants. Always remember that in you we see great potential and we expect more success.

As I said before, I hope this event and the New Year will be catalysts for a new stage of scholarly adavancement in the lives of the people of Kurdistan. We should not forget that our future relies on our pursuit of scientific knowledge and understanding.

Thank you.

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