Go to contents

Bill Gates Commits to Saving Iraqi Scholars

Posted August. 17, 2007 03:02,   


Bill Gates is making his first foray into saving Iraqi scholars.

According to the Financial Times on August 16, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has decided to help Iraqi scholars facing threats and persecution by providing $5 million for a new project that will relocate more than 150 scholars to institutions in neighboring countries such as Jordan.

The foundation announced that, “The protection of Iraq’s intellectual capital will be essential for Iraq’s future development.” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support the new initiative though the Scholar Rescue Fund initiated by the International Institute of Education.

The Scholar Rescue Fund was founded in 2002 by Wall Street figures, including investors such as George Soros, to attempt to preserve intellectual property by protecting Iraqi scholars facing threats or persecution because of differences of their religions and criticism on the government.

The requests for help from Iraqi intellectuals have increased nearly 10-fold compared to last year’s three or four requests.

The number of scholars who have been killed since 2003 totals around 300. A bombing outside of Baghdad University killed 70 people, including a number of professors, earlier this year, and the numbers soar when unreported and abducted academics are counted.

Iraq is, “the closest thing that any of us have seen to a holocaust in terms of attacks on science and learning,” said Allan Goodman, president and chief executive of the non-profit Institute of International Education.

Those who escaped Iraq to other countries are making a living, sometimes by driving taxis. The fund plans to help them to continue teaching students in Iraq through long-distance learning programs, such as televised lectures.