Poor education systems hindering Arab students from enrolling in world-class universities

April 23, 2010
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Poor education systems in the Arab world are hindering Arab students from enrolling in world-class universities, an education expert has said.

“World class universities, including Harvard, are facing difficulty in getting qualified Arab students to enroll in their programmes, particularly in sciences, math and technology,” Sameh El Saharty, the president of the Harvard Arab Alumni Association (HAAA), said. “Many international businesses, particularly knowledge-based industries, are exerting a lot of effort in recruiting competent and skilled workers among college graduates. This is a signal that our education systems need to transform by focusing more on math and science, by creating inquisitive minds in social sciences, and by investing in research and development,” he told the fifth Arab World Conference (AWC) organised by HAAA in Doha.

El Saharty said that HAAA aimed to create a two-way bridge between the Arab World and Harvard University.

“One way is increasing the voice and representation of the Arab World at Harvard, including our heritage, culture, identity, and aspirations, and the second is bringing the intellectual power of Harvard to contribute to the development of the region,” he said.  

Qatar’s education minister that incorporating the best educational practices from all over the world without endangering the local culture and values is a major challenge facing education reforms in Qatar.

“The first challenge is how to ensure that the reforms are not adversely affecting the basic values, traditions and culture of the country,” Saad bin Ibrahim Al Mahmoudsaid. “Secondly, we must ensure quality education is made available to every individual in the society.”

The third challenge is to ensure that the reforms deliver sustainable results that suit the society.

Al Mahmood cautioned against rushing with the reforms without considering the [eculiar values and features of the society.

“Every individual would like to preserve the status quo because it is more comfortable. Change is risky and would make people vulnerable to challenges. So we must be very cautious while introducing reforms,” Al Mahmoud said.

The minister called for reviving the Ibrahimi tradition to bring together the three world religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, that consider Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) as their common ancestor.

Al Mahmoud said that cultural tourism was the best way to foster relations between peoples from different countries.

The conference titled “Transforming the Arab World: New perspectives on modernity, culture and change” addressed a variety of issues including women’s history in the GCC, entrepreneurship, health, education and energy.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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