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English UK signs major MOU, Kurdistan

The UK’s largest English language teaching association, English UK, and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, have signed a major agreement to develop English language teaching across Iraqi Kurdistan and enable English UK members to access a significant scholarship programme for education abroad.

Tony Millns of English UK (right) and KRG Minister for Higher Education, Dr Ali Saeed Mohammad, sign the MOU on behalf of 450 member schools

HCDP has an annual budget of US$120m a year until at least 2014

The MOU will see English UK members cater to students on the region’s Kurdistan’s Human Capacity Development Programme (HCDP) – a scheme which has sent thousands of students to study degrees overseas in a bid to rebuild the region after years of conflict.

It will also boost the sharing of best practice to improve teaching quality in the region.

English UK CEO Tony Millns said: “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.”

Launched in 2010, the HCDP enables masters and PhD-level students to study outside Iraq and has an annual budget of US$120m a year until at least 2014. Of those already studying abroad, 65% are in the UK.

“The KRG is working closely with English UK in defining and solving its English language requirements”

Opportunities for UK ELT providers lie in the fact students need at least IELTS 4.0 to participate (though their chances of acceptance are greatly improved with higher proficiency), and that pre-university English training is included in the scholarship.

Other areas where English UK and the KRG will work together include the development of the English language teaching sector in Kurdistan, teacher training and capacity building, and in creating a “framework for collaboration and information sharing”.

As such, English UK will provide “support, information and expertise” to the Ministry of Higher Education and the HCDP Committee, which will in turn help English UK members better access the HCDP.

Signing the document, Millns said that he had been impressed by the progress made by the Kurdistan region and the government’s plans for the future, including its focus on English language teaching and higher education in the UK.

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