Sunday, April 27, 2008

Good News from Iraq: 27 Apr 2008

From MNF-I, Internet Connects Iraqi Students with World.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA — An initiative to connect Iraqi students and teachers with the rest of the world via Internet is underway in Wasit Province.

The Wasit Provincial Reconstruction Team, in concert with the Wasit Director General of Education, started a yearlong initiative in March called Access to Information. The program will provide local schools and libraries with books and resources and open Internet centers to selected secondary schools, universities and municipal library headquarters in al-Hayy and al-Kut, said Vanessa Beary, the PRT public diplomacy officer.

he program started with the opening of an Internet center at the al-Kut Girls Secondary School, March 10, and continued with others at Open University April 18 and a similar opening April 20 at the 14 July Boys School. All of the centers contain 10 computer stations, Internet service, furniture, an air conditioning unit and a generator.

The Open University Internet center will serve approximately 1,000 teachers. It will also serve college professors selected to attend a 14-week online train-the-trainer course, taught by the University of Oregon for English instructors. The course focuses on new language-teaching techniques.

In addition to the Internet center, Open University received several books on behalf of the Advisory Center Organization to supplement the university’s student library. The offering included a Teaching of English as a Foreign Language book used to prepare for the TOEFL test. Higher education schools administer the test to measure English proficiency by non-native English speakers.

The Internet center at the 14 July Boys High School in al-Kut, which was established in 1996, will service 1,000 students. Two future Internet projects are aimed at Badrah and Jassan in the coming months as part of the strategy to close the gaps in outlying areas, Beary said.

Beary wants this to be more than just a project, but to have an impact on the entire community.

“It’s good to have at school for me,” said 16-year-old Caef Raad, a student at the 14 July Boys High School. “I can chat with other people and study on the Internet.”

In addition to the Internet centers and book distribution, the initiative includes refurbishments at district libraries, providing furniture and establishing TOEFL centers in the future.