Interview with Dr. Ghias Barakat,
Minister of Higher Education in Syria
Damasco, Monday 5th, June 2006 - The Ministry of Higher Education has developed a strategic plan to develop and upgrade the level of Education in Syria. The 10th five-year plan has determined 7 broad objectives and we are in the process of implementing new policies to achieve those objectives. We are seeking to expand the periods and areas of studies, and the main areas of reform focus on Information Technologies, Languages, and Practical Training application programs. At the same time, we are also developing new Higher Education Institutes in the Governorates in order to release pressure on Damascus Universities.
The Ministry is also expanding its relationships with foreign universities and has signed mutual agreements with Institutes in different parts of the world; we are implementing students and teachers exchange programs; In addition, the Virtual University in Damascus offers excellent virtual programs in joint venture with over 300 universities around the world.
I also want to underline that Syria is very active in the area of languages. Damascus is well known for its Arabic Language Institute which offers various extensive Arabic programs (Arabic as a foreign language etc..), tailor-made to the specific needs of students. In addition to English and French Institutes, we are also adding every year a new language institute; we now have institutes for Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Persian, Turkish, and Italian.
The Ministry of Higher Education also supervises academic programs and private Universities. In addition to the four Universities run by the government, Syria counts 8 private Universities since 2003, and more will be open in the near future. We have developed an accreditation system and we specify the academic requirements and pre-requisites for programs, in order to ensure the quality of education.
In coordination with the private sector, the Ministry of Higher Education is focusing on practical skills needed by the private sector. We are planning to redirect the specialities of the 200 Intermediate Institutes to better suit the market needs. We also have several joint programs with foreign universities in the fields of Banking, Business Administration, Information Technologies and Engineering.
We are certain that foreign investors opening new businesses and companies in Syria will find an excellent workforce with the appropriate skills and qualifications. Syria has an excellent record of social, educational and political stability, and therefore provides an excellent investment climate. Our strong belief in just peace guarantees the success of any project for investors. Peace is needed in the region to attract even more investment in the country.