Education policy between modern reality and medieval gloom [Archives:2008/1143/Opinion]

April 3 2008

By: Dr. Nasser Mohammed Nasser
Can you imagine at which point of international progress we are? What is the status of our educational institutions in the cotemporary era? How big is the gap between us and the world of today? The following lines attempt to give answers to such questions.

University certificate holders constitute 85 percent of those occupying high-ranking posts in the government of Japan, and in the United States of America, they account for 80 percent, but 62 percent in Germany. There are at least 3500 scientists in every million citizens in Japan, but 2500 scientists in every million citizens in the United States and 1500 scientists in the same number of population in Europe. And, out of 350 thousand automatic humans, 200 thousands exist in Japan, 70 thousand in Europe and 50 thousand in the United States of America.

Despite all such technological development, the East Asian tiger began reviewing its education systems and policies. Japan realizes that it managed to transfer experience of the western technology to its territory, as well as outperform the westerners in its manufacturing and marketing, thanks to developed skills and sincere efforts. But now, the East Asian state is in an urgent need for pioneering and invention. It wants to be the first vehicle in the train of progress in order to the take the world behind it.

The United States, on the contrary, hurried to constitute the National Security Council for Education and tasked it to oversee three themes, the first of which is the industrial theme that has to do with developing and improving biochemistry and manufacturing satellites and space ships. No. 2 is the military theme that is in charge of achieving specific objectives, most important of which is creating an electronic umbrella and finishing the star war program. In addition, there is the economic theme that is responsible for reaching certain goals, most important of which is doubling the added value in the areas of space, computer and aircraft industries.

Marvelous achievements have been so far achieved in this area of industry and the added value got 20 thousand times doubled since space industry began. The added value in the area of computer manufacturing did also double by 1700 thousand times while the added value in the area of aircraft manufacturing doubled by 2500 thousand times.

The world undergoes rapid change, and this change is marvelous at the same time. A small transistor, of which the size doesn't exceed that of a fingernail, is capable of carrying or storing billion data. Meanwhile, the mathematical chemistry has become more able to construct and establish huge devices, machineries and ordinance out of small atoms and particles, as well as produce accurate and top-quality designs.

Introducing the genetic map and breaking down any barriers between it and other forms of the state is sufficient to create a unique revolution in the area of human brain engineering and making it more able than it is now in the near future.

All these technological achievements have critical results at the different spheres. In the economic front, the world of today gets integrated in a rapid manner while small economies are contained within the wheel of the world's capitalistic economy, but at the political level, structure of the national state vanishes gradually. When it comes to the cultural sphere, we find that an international trend is growing fast on the basis of respect for human rights and freedoms.

At more than one level, the entire world agrees that the international trend is on its way to wash away all the racial, nationalist and religious affiliations, cultures and trends, and is more able to do so. We are approaching a new world in which all the existing powers and entities melt, thereby providing a new outcome based on affiliation with what is international or global.

Indispensable tasks for educational development:

We are part of this world's fabric while seclusion or standing in the way of changes is not that possible. We are therefore advised to contribute to making change and designing the dimensions of change. We have to bear in mind that the educational institution is the train of progress in any community and man is the ultimate goal of development and is its indispensable means at the same time. The educational institution has to do two primary tasks, the first of which is represented by meeting the community needs by qualifying experts, technicians and engineers required by the development process.

The second task is related with pioneering and inventing new things, a matter that require universities and research centers, in particular, to review its programs with regard to recruiting researchers and experts in the various majors. They are also recommended to introduce new majors or specializations such as genetic engineering, electronic engineering and mathematical chemistry, and then concentrate on the future of these majors. School and university curricula should be designed in a way transplanting love and loyalty with homeland in the hearts and minds of the younger generation.

I see that it is very difficult to have such tasks achieved within a community where decision-making is controlled by figures that don't differentiate between the 'Open Ta and Closed Ta in the Arabic alphabet', and therefore are only concerned about collecting funds illegally. It is also difficult to achieve these tasks under a political system that insists on politicizing public sector jobs and handing government institutions as sectors to certain individuals. The system followed by our state continues sponsoring sectarian educational projects, some of which raise the slogan of disbelief while others raise the slogan of exploiting public funds and facilities for personal earning.

In Yemen, 'Country of Faith and Wisdom', all the community facilities are harnessed for serving a single family at the expense of the entire nation. At this point, I would like to talk about a long-term strategy while change is inevitable to take place soon. The marginalization policy, pursued by the political regime in Yemen, is responsible for the persisting backwardness and the community meaningless culture. The local community culture proved unable to produce competent and active political figures that may lead the country toward unique comprehensive development. Instead, it produced backward and stupid political figures that are only concerned about disbelief, regionalism and sectarianism.

Via its sponsorship and design of this culture, the political regime seems to be addressing a letter to Yemeni people telling them to look at the change alternatives that are available before them. The letter says to people, “If you want change, it will only be backward. So you have two options to choose between: whether change toward religious dictatorship restricting public freedoms and taking you to clashes with the outside world or the return to Imamate via the Zaidi ideology that considers power as the inclusive property of a particular family or dynasty. All these issues are responsible for poor quality education and backwardness in our nation.

Source: Al-Wasat Weekly.