PM Masrour Barzani’s Commencement Speech at University of Kurdistan – Hawler
Erbil, Kurdistan Region (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today delivered the following commencement speech to the class of 2022 at the University of Kurdistan – Hawler.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear students, dear graduates
I would like to welcome everyone here today to the celebration of the commencement ceremony of the Class of 2022 of the University of Kurdistan – Hawler.
I want to begin by congratulating each of you for getting past that first finish line. You have reached an important milestone in your lives. I am proud of you all for the commitment and drive you have shown to get there.
But I say it’s the first finish line because your journey – of learning, change and growth – starts today. Now that you have successfully embraced the critical learning skills necessary to play your part – in your local community to global issues, the world is your oyster.
Your graduation today is the result of a team effort. You have all worked together – as a family, as a class, and as part of a wider community in the university. Your parents will no doubt have sacrificed a great deal to support you on your journey and to see this day finally happen. I want to thank the faculty and your lecturers for giving you the best education possible. At times, I’m sure, their own lives, and families, will have taken the backseat to give you the time you need to get better grades. The least we owe your parents and the faculty is a round of applause (cue to clap).
Ladies and gentlemen,
My government has placed special emphasis on education. As I have previously said, we intend to transform the Kurdistan Region into a knowledge nation: a nation that produces the next innovative ideas to tackle climate change, food security, and poverty; a nation that invests in technology and digital start ups through public and private investment; and a nation that plays its role on the international stage to advance global issues.
Top quality schools must be part of that national vision to unlock our nation’s greatest asset – which I have always believed is our human capital.
Countries that have recognised the potential in human capital have got an early start.
We are no different. We can do it too. I have seen it across Kurdistan and in our diaspora. My vision is to tools necessary to innovate and invest their energy and dynamism here. That’s why we’re investing in early education.
We will continue to foster a robust education climate in the Kurdistan Region. I want to see every Kurdistani graduate have their voice in the issues of today and in the issues that await us beyond the horizon.
And we’re already seeing living examples. When I visited the Department of Information Technology, I was delighted to see the young software developers, engineers and young leaders from our universities. They told me that they’re the best in the country.
In my own office, too, I have seen graduates – including from this very university – helping deliver tax and social security reform and new agriculture exports into Gulf markets, and fixing our banking sector. As a society too, I have been humbled to feel their informed views – of our challenges and the global questions. When I sat down with students across Kurdistan in my recent town hall event, I saw intelligent students determined to strive for the betterment of our land and people.
This is what we’re capable of. This is what our universities can do. This is what you are capable of. Skilled and accomplished Kurdistanis, educated here at home, are an integral part of our collective talent pool. And you all can help.
For example, one of the challenges we have faced is digital literacy. A significant portion of the population still struggles with digital services. Your tech savvy generation can help, spreading the word about the benefits of digitization, and lending your older friends and relatives a helping hand when they need it.
We are proud of you. And we want you to play prominent roles in building our nation. You are the reason why I have repeatedly said I’m optimistic about our future. I truly am.
I am certain that every one of you will make your own contribution to that future in your own way and on your own terms.
We will help you achieve that. Our government will soon be announcing loans to small, medium and scalable businesses to jumpstart projects in key industries, including agriculture, tourism and technology. The progress we have made in digitalization is extraordinary. Just yesterday I announced the KRG’s first digital transformation strategy. This is our blueprint for the future.I want you to find your place in it – to play your role.
My vision is to turn the KRG into a paperless government, with all the efficiencies that will bring; to give the private sector the space it needs to grow. I understand that can’t happen through the slow, bureaucratic machinery currently in place. I know it can at times deter the best of ideas and intentions. But I’m determined to change it.
Now I know that our future is also influenced by what happens in Iraq and the region; what happens there affects us; it can disrupt us. But I believe Iraq is at a crossroads, and the country’s newly appointed leaders will have to summon the political will necessary to have a frank conversation about the next chapter. The country is at war with terrorism; cities lack access to water and electricity, far too much money has been lost; too many people have been lost to violence; and a public that has longed for a better, hopeful future feels as if their needs will always be relegated to a distant second.
It is time for a change. The country can’t afford to carry on in the same way, and the Iraqi people have clearly rejected the status quo.
Iraq will have to accept success here as success for all the country. Rather than disrupt progress, we should come together. We have always extended a hand of friendship and partnership to Iraqis in Baghdad. I will do so again today. We can help lift the country. We can share our knowledge and lessons learned – from ways to capture flared gas to digitalization and managing public finances.
That’s the future we aspire to – to share our voice among the community of nations.
We will be a place where ideas, innovation, hard work and enterprise help transform our society and shape the destiny of our people. A place where hard work pays off.
We are introducing real change to pave the way for entrepreneurship and private sector growth. We have already made significant progress. The efficiencies we introduced in the public sector have freed up capital for investments in critical public services — hospitals, schools and electricity.
We, as a government, can’t do that alone. We want talented graduates to help us to build a stronger, innovative, and modern Kurdistan. We as a government have an obligation to provide you the tools you need to realize your potential. My government is committed to creating this environment for you and our society as a whole. Your role starts today.
In closing, graduates, I will leave you with the same advice I tell young entrepreneurs across Kurdistan: Dream big. This is your time. Go out there to play your role. Innovate, work, develop and build.
And whenever and wherever possible, give back to the land. You own and owe this place. We all do.