What Would You Do If You Were President?

If I were President…Lana

‘If I were President’ is a phrase that litters many a conversation in the Kurdish community. As a child I would always wonder whether a group of ‘grown-up’ Kurds could make it past an hour without some form of politics sneaking into the conversation and turning into passionate debates.

Being a politician is a job that many profess to have the wisdom to perform better than the current milieu of political leaders and their potential successors and rivals. Conversations are often made in jest but deep down the sentiments of what they say are often true.

I do not profess to know how to cure all of Kurdistan’s woes and to grow her into a successful state where freedom of speech is not a tool for slander but a responsibility and right afforded to all our citizens, politicians included. I do not claim to know the exact route to independence but I would not dangle that hope in front of the people without having the means to achieve it.

If I were President, I would then presume that Kurdistan had already undergone a period of transformation, progress and enlightenment. After all they would have been the first country in the Middle East to freely elect a female head of state.

Continuing with the theme of enlightenment, if I were to have made it to the lofty position of President, one of my utmost priorities would be to completely revolutionize the education system of Kurdistan. What we build today has to be defended, preserved and further developed by future generations. Therefore, only when we open the minds of our future generations to scientific facts and teach them to question and seek knowledge rather than parrot form learning by rote will Kurdistan achieve her full potential. Schools and universities must not be exploited to spread biased political or religious views.  

I would use the wealth from the black gold atop which we sit as a tool to finance a solid infrastructure from which to build our nation to avoid stagnation and dependency. The people of Kurdistan will be here long after the oil runs out and it is our duty to educate future generations and build the foundations of a strong nation with a financial and cultural wealth that long outlives our oil and gas reserves.

In every nation that at some point in history has been considered great there are extraordinary educational institutions; by this I do not mean only the hallowed halls of the World’s top universities but good schools that allow every child the chance in life to achieve, regardless of their origin or family background.

No education system is ever perfect, at some point they will falter and stumble unless they are developed and changed with time. But to strive for excellence has never been easy and it takes time and effort from all in society and those elected to serve the people should lead by example. The educational system in Kurdistan must evolve to serve the needs of our people and to encourage excellence in every field. Society’s greatest respect should be afforded equally to all those who strive to do their best, whatever their chosen profession and to all those who work hard to educate themselves and their families in order to build a better Kurdistan.

To be educated is not just to pass an exam that one has crammed for, but to have an appreciation for knowledge, to accept that we will never know everything or have all the answers and to acquire an analytical and rational approach to solving problems. A nation’s progress is measured by the quality of education they provide for their children.

Some may read this column with scorn and think that these are the words of a naïve girl, who scarcely understands the power politics of the region and that may be the case; but I at least understand that in the long term knowledge also creates power and for Kurdistan to be strong, we need an arsenal that incorporates more than weapons and oil alone.


By: Lara Fatah

Slemani, Kurdistan