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The Future of Arab Education and Scientific Research

Al-Etihad, UAE, May 1

Last week, in Sharm el-Sheikh, a symposium titled “The Future of Education and Scientific Research in the Arab World” was organized by Bahrain’s Issa Cultural Center in cooperation with the Arab Research Centers Alliance. It was attended by a group of thinkers and researchers to crystallize a strategy to treat the ongoing academic crisis experienced throughout the Arab world. The hope is to enlighten Arab societies about the magnitude of the problem, which will only be exacerbated if its root causes are not addressed. The lack of ingenuity in Arab thought and scholarly inquiry has led to intellectual backwardness. Instead of using science and its laws, intellectuals and thinkers in the Arab world have replaced them with ideological illusions. Universities in the field of human and social sciences, rather than being scientific laboratories and institutions of knowledge, have become institutions without any benefit in the development of Arab societies. If we say that one of the priorities of the Arab and Muslim world today is to reform and develop societies, we need to invest heavily in the development of education. The renaissance of nations is achieved only through education. The advancements of scientific research and quality of education are central to strengthening the economy. Most international reports confirm the poor level of education in the Arab world, and the Arab education system needs urgent reforms to address the problem of unemployment and other challenges. Although most children in many Arab countries have benefited from compulsory education, there are significant gaps between what educational systems in the Arab world have achieved and what the region needs in the process of economic development. As one report suggests, one of the reasons for the link between weak education and weak economic growth is significant gaps in education. What we are required to do is find a solid and capable educational common denominator. This requires a great effort by all those concerned about education to work together to determine the appropriateness of the educational curricula to goals and desired strategies. If we are talking here about economic growth and sustainable development, we should also talk about participatory growth and participatory development based on participatory approaches. Airbus, based in the French city of Toulouse, does not manufacture airplanes by itself, but constructs them as a result of cooperation with several companies in other European countries. Why is it that we Arabs do not create Arab companies that contribute to global industrialization even though we have the human potential to do so? Why don’t we leverage the great talent we have in our countries to turn our region into a global hub of technology and innovation?  – Abd al-Haq Azuzi

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