Remarks by Ambassador Jones at the Libyan Higher Education Task Force Meeting, in Washington, DC:
Good afternoon and welcome to the inaugural meeting of the Libyan Higher Education Task Force here at Meridian International Center.
I’d like to thank Minister Abubakkar and his team for joining me in getting this initiative started, and I’d also like to thank Assistant Secretary Ryan and Deputy Assistant Secretary Schmierer for their welcome this morning. And of course, I’d like to thank Meridian for hosting this event in this lovely setting.
Six months ago, Minister Abubakker and I signed Terms of Reference on establishing this Task Force. Our goal was to ensure that our governments could strategize together how to deepen the educational ties between our two countries. We will work today on concrete ideas to do just that with new opportunities for students to learn from each other and interact through increased exchanges and scholarships, and by forging university partnerships and better cooperation between American and Libyan higher education institutions.
There are already strong ties that bind us – a long line of Libyan scholars, such as Minister Abubakkar and others in the Libyan delegation, have studied in the United States and took back what they learned to Libya. I applaud their continued efforts today on behalf of Libya’s next generation of students. Last year alone, over 1,300 young Libyans studied in the United States, an 800% increase since 2007; this year over 2,000 students went and our goal today is to make that number grow even more.
We learn from each other – and every exchange student or scholarship recipient teaches his or her host community as much as he or she learns, if not more. As Libya continues to build its democratic institutions, its leaders need the tools and the wisdom to navigate the challenges ahead. The United States doesn’t have all the answers, but we hope that Libyans’ experience in the American marketplace of ideas, friendships and conversations with their American friends, and study at U.S. universities will spark new ideas that lead to success.