دقيقتان مع الدكتور يحيى: أفكار للنهوض بالشعوب العربية ضمن مشروع نهضوي للعرب.
Two Minutes With Dr. Yahya: series of articles in the Process of Philosophy of the Arab Manifesto on nation Building.
ضمن مقالات فلسفة المشروع العربي
The Philosophy of the Arab Manifesto
لقطات حول التربية في العالم العربي / 7
للدكاترة : حسن يحيى المجدلاوي
Snapshots On Education in the Arab World/7
Hasan Yahya, Ph.ds
Today, we live in the information age and Arab countries could be left behind once again if they do not modernize their education system. The so-called “digital divide” is both a reflection of the science and technology gap and a cause of its continued existence. This has to be taken into account in education reform both to catch up with the developed world, and to ensure technological development in every field.
Improving education, emphasizing the acquisition, increase and dissemination of knowledge, and empowering innovative thinkers are keys to economic growth. Asian countries such as China, India, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea provide successful cases by emphasizing education in their initial development plans to assure economic growth.
South Korea represents a particularly illuminating case. For a whole decade, it gave the highest priority to education in the national budget regardless of the needs of other sectors. This allowed the preparation of a knowledgeable and well-trained workforce whose products are now recognized worldwide. The trend continues to this day with lightening speed in the field of information technology; the proportion of Internet users in the population is greater in South Korea than in the U.S. In contrast, although Arabs constitute 5% of the world population, Internet users make up only 1.1% of the global usage.
Calls for reform abound from both within and outside the Arab region. Invariably, emphasis is placed on instituting freedom through political democracy, privatization of the economy, and empowering women.
These goals cannot flourish in the presence of a knowledge deficit. As former U.S. President John Adams said: “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.” An educated populace is necessary to initiate and update the proposed reforms. Personal freedoms through democracy must be accompanied by upholding the individual’s responsibility toward society; a growing economy requires a knowledgeable and continually updated workforce; and gender equality can only take root in a well-informed society. The analytical prowess that is imparted by education is necessary to spread and sustain the needed reforms.
It is never too late to remedy a problem, particularly when it relates to the future of a nation. A factory that goes out of step with the times is retooled. In the same manner, the objectives and mission of education in the Arab world need to be updated. The problem needs to be remedied starting at the very beginning.
Pre-school education, at homes and kindergartens, can set the pattern. A child’s perception of learning and the development of its personality begin at a very young age. Inquisitiveness and analytical thinking can all be implanted in the minds of young children through dialogue. More importantly, valuing knowledge and respecting its sources affect children from an early age. I can personally attest to that: my earliest recollection from childhood was about the way my father reached for a book in his bookshelf, carried it with great care, and opened its pages with tenderness and respect.
In some countries like Egypt, the information is crammed in the young minds with no time allocated for discussion or reasoning, which forces emphasis on rote learning. There are things that must be memorized, such as multiplication tables, grammar rules, or poems. But, students should learn to discuss possible interpretations and the benefit of debate. There must be a balance between expecting obedience and encouraging innovation. Teachers should seek the participation of students in free and critical thinking, which in itself increases their interest in, and enjoyment of, the time they spend at school.
University education requires much reform as well. At higher education institutions, students should be taught how to acquire dynamic and renewable knowledge. Their minds must be challenged to achieve new heights and their energies directed to useful pathways. To do so, educators must be allowed a measure of autonomy. At the same time, they require systems of regular evaluation and monitoring and continued training. Other essential changes include upgrading the libraries and improving the information technology hardware and software to benefit from the vast resources that are now available on electronic media. (689 words) To be continued/8
@Hasan Yahya, Michigan, April 2012
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