Reports to the Nation: Report #4: Education for Unity [Archives:2000/48/Law & Diplomacy]
Dr. Abdulmageed Ghaleb Almikhlafi
TOWARD A NEW EDUCATION
Disunity and Education
It is customary to say it has already become a formula that the Arab world presents an example of unity in diversity, and when we apply this formula to the Arab culture we are generally convinced that this unity is more evident there than in the political sphere. There are twenty Arab governments but there is only one Arab culture. Although unity of the Arab nation is a major goal of the Arab political systems at the theoretical level, the unity of Arab culture is not a major goal of Arab educational systems at the practical level. The division of the Arab nation into twenty states with twenty ministries of education, and twenty kinds of curricula, has made it possible that education is used as an instrument which plays a very important role in the disunity of the Arab nation. Splitting the mind of the young generation into twenty directions is to satisfy the psychological requirement of disunity, separatism, and regionalism. As long as Arab teachers and the students remain isolated within their schools and universities in their respective individual state, and fail to develop links of solidarity with other teachers and students in other Arab states or work out ways of concretely identifying themselves with the broader mass movement for the democratic transformation of Arab society as a whole, they will lack the support and understanding of the masses upon whose power their capacity to resist the regional establishment will ultimately depend.
Unity and Education
The unity we are talking about is unity without uniformity. A common ground with diversity. A unity without tyranny. A democratic consensus necessitated by a common desire to belong to, to live a dignified life in, and to survive in one nation. Only by understanding unity in this manner can we consider unity to be a condition of emancipation. Only with the enhancement of other conditions of emancipation such a unity will be realizable and easier to achieve.
If a concrete and objective universal unification of the whole human race is desirable, then it would be natural to say that unification is no less desirable for Arabs. The unification of Arabs could be achieved in various ways, but any forced unity may provoke the opposition of regionalism and separatism in the name of specificity of some Arab countries, their right to shape their destinies, and their just, equal participation in the distribution and production of goods. To man, there is no emancipatory meaning in history unless he himself is shaping it. Thus, every Arab country must find its place in the process of unification of the Arab nation if its participation in this process it to be meaningful, unique, effective, and democratic. Thus, following the objective tendencies, the factors of transformative consciousness, including the transformative ideology and philosophy of the unity of the Arab nation, must assume significance. This transformative ideology and philosophy should not be apprioristic, but must be empirical, educational, and democratic. In the sense that it cannot be imposed by government leaders from above, but must grow out of the experiences and needs of every Arab country. Only in that context can each of them strive to promote its cultural contribution and uniqueness to express its own aspirations as part of the Arab nation. This is morally, educationally, and culturally necessary and politically possible on condition of building an emancipatory political unity of the Arab nation. It is important to realize that such a socially objective unity can be ensured above all by the oppressed who are the victims of historical and cultural retardation. They must be historically interested in building such unity for themselves. Whether they are workers, farmers, students, intellectuals, artists, journalists, communicators, culturalists, educators, or soldiers, they are the ones who must be truly conscious of their own universal mission, i.e., the contribution to the emancipation of humankind through their own emancipation.
One way to build up the position of unity in the Arab countries is through the opposition to the geopolitical multi or bipolarism in the world. The Arab nation is a divided nation where geopolitical multi of bipolarism, divide and rule politics, and direct foreign intervention has been and still are divisive forces weakening the remaining unificatory structures. Arab countries have been colonized, divided, and exploited by European capitalism in its early phase. Now they are economically occupied in the imperialist phase. Another way to build up the position of unity is the use of the power of strategic resources and raw materials to promote an Arab common market on the one hand and to establish an autonomous Arab-Arab dialogue against multi or bipolarism on the other. The third way, however, is to work out common educational and cultural strategies aimed at reducing fragmentation, separation, and regionalism so as to insure the unity of culture and enhance the culture of unity.
Education must contribute to the elimination of disunity as a condition of retardation and to the promotion of unity as a condition of emancipation. An Arab education that does not strive to promote the fullest and most thorough understanding of the Arab world as a whole cultural unit, is not worthy of the name. Arab education must put an end to the splitting and fragmentation of the mind of the youth into twenty directions through twenty kinds of curricula. It must enable the youth to be self-confident in their own culture and to be proud of their Arabic identity. Education must contribute to cross-border communication among Arab states. As long as Arab emancipatory teachers, intellectuals and students remain isolated within their schools and universities in their individual state, and fail to develop links of solidarity with other teachers, intellectuals, and students in other Arab states or work out ways of concretely identifying themselves with the broader mass movement for the democratic transformation of the Arab society as a whole, they will lack the support and understanding of the masses upon whose power their capacity to resist the regional establishment will ultimately depend.