PM Masrour Barzani’s Commencement Speech at AUK
Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today delivered the following commencement speech to the class of 2022 at the American University of Kurdistan (AUK) in Dohuk.
Ladies and Gentleman, good evening. I would like to welcome everyone tonight to the celebration of the commencement ceremony of the class of 2022, and to celebrate the hard work and persistence of our graduates that has culminated in the completion of their bachelor’s studies.
I am very proud to be here today to recognize your achievements, and I am proud of you all for the commitment and drive you have shown to get you here.
To the AUK Board of Trustees, I acknowledge your dedication, as I do the Foundation’s Board of Directors and Chairwoman Dr Rania Majeed. The Foundation has played an important role in helping the campus advance and prosper, through its support of laboratories, among many other endeavours. The President, as well as academic and administrative leaders have also played central roles in helping this campus become a model for higher education across the region. I would also like to recognise our other partners, in particular the US Department of State for its generous grants which have led to partnerships with American universities.
In a few short years, all of you here and many of you in the background have helped transform the American University of Kurdistan to one of our most treasured institutions; a place where hopes and dreams are being realised; a hub of learning that is already producing leaders of the future, who will play integral roles in building and developing our society.
This campus has achieved wonderful things. Its graduates are much sought after by employers, the quality of its courses has been acknowledged across our region and the status of this university has been recognised abroad. The New England Commission for Higher Education has approved AUK’s first stage of accreditation, and more progress is likely to follow. This is a deserved acknowledgement of what you have achieved here since 2019 – a recognition of the calibre of the education on offer here. And this is something from which I draw deep satisfaction.
Many years ago, I too sat in an audience like this as a student. And ever since then, I have been committed to ensure that that life changing experience should be available to many more of us who dare to dream, who want to make a change. I remember turning to a friend during a class on global poverty and saying I would one day help create a centre of excellence where the youth of Kurdistan can enjoy a similar education.
Eighteen years later, this university opened its doors and part of that dream was fulfilled. It was a move that advanced my hope that the opportunities on offer here would start to unlock our nation’s potential. Every graduation ceremony, such as this, transforms that vision into a reality.
Our progress is being defined in some of the workplaces in the KRG, and in the great cities of the world, where young AUK graduates are increasingly making their mark. The experiences they are gaining, both at home and abroad, are a collective value add to Kurdistan. Skilled and accomplished Kurdistanis, wherever they are, are an integral part of our collective talent pool. We are proud of them and we want them to play prominent roles in building our nation.
Our aim in the Board of Trustees is to create an environment that welcomes our people home, and gives them a stake in developing our society. I recognise that education at all levels is central to this. Whether it be a curious child in primary school, or the citizen looking to learn vocational skills, a quality education must be a paramount goal.
In government too, lifting our standards across the board has been part of our cabinet agenda. In recent months, the cabinet unanimously supported the creation of a national accreditation body – the first in the country – to improve quality assurance; assess our education standards at all levels, and establish a culture of continuous improvement. This is now happening. With the support of the President of Kurdistan Region, Kak Nechirvan Barzani, and our Task Force on Education, we will enhance curriculum building, technical and vocational training, and university admissions, all of which are now core priorities of my government.
Let me use this stage tonight to clearly state our goal; we aim to become a Knowledge Nation, a place where ideas, innovation, hard work and enterprise help transform our society and shape the destinies of our people. At every step of our journey, both as individuals and as citizens, learning and improvement are integral companions.
We, as a government, need your help. We want young talented graduates to help us build Kurdistan. We value your skills, and we place a premium on critical thinking. We want you to help us create workplaces that implement the professional standards you have seen first hand at university. We will reward endeavour. And we will advance ideas and enterprise.
Everyone of you here tonight is an asset to Kurdistan. Whether it be now, or in years to come, we want you to take a stake in the work we have been doing to transform and diversify our economy.
We have made huge strides in slashing red tape and creating business friendly environments. We have introduced efficiencies to our public sector that have freed up capital for investments in entrepreneurship and essential public works. We encourage innovation, we want our graduates to be agents of social change and to understand what it means to be citizens.
As you all prepare to embark on your well-earned journeys, which have at least partly been made possible by the education you have received here at AUK, I want to offer you some words of advice.
– Uphold the highest ethical standards
– Always remember your home and identity
– Give back to the nation when circumstances allow
– Fight for economic prosperity here at home and beyond
– Respect the land; be mindful of sustainability and the preciousness of the God-given planet
– Apply the principles of democracy, justice, and equality to your own lives
Class of 2022: I urge you to make your mark on the world. In years to come, our nation, our elders, and our people will look to you for guidance and growth. I wish you all the wisdom to seize your opportunities and to appreciate the place that has put the world at your feet. You are proponents and success stories of our knowledge nation.
Again, I congratulate you on this great achievement.
Thank you all for attending this ceremony and thank you to our Peshmerga and security forces, whose bravery and sacrifice allow for happy occasions such as these. But also, keep learning and growing; education doesn’t end with a bachelor’s degree.
It is a lifelong process.