Some things on the “to do” listReform needs to come from within [Archives:2004/784/Opinion]

October 25 2004

By Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Tarb
For The Yemen Times

Reform can never originate from the outside, because those who are outside can not see the reality either here or in the Arab World.
They do not know the mistakes that have obstructed our political development and in terms of economic, financial, and administrative reform.They don't know the social and cultural faults accumulating in the Arab nation for a long time.
They have become a phenomenon agonizing all of us, and engendering habits and customs alien to the Arab community. It has also given birth to different anti-discipline extremist groups that belonged at no time to our original community.
This social deterioration has damaged both the Arab and Islamic nation and other foreign countries.
The Sa'ada event blocks the Arab and foreign investment flow. Recently, I have been asked at many symposiums about Darfur, Ghaza, and Sa'ada. I have arrived at a belief that I must write about the executive steps of reform and change. These curing recommendations are in articles I send to the Yemen Times.
– Warning of delaying reform. Such a mistake will open door to the unknown, especially the danger of terrorism and extremism besetting the region.
– Urgent invitation for raising citizens' political awareness and acquainting them with local and foreign events. This will ensure that the people will become a privy to and defender of the state's policy in various fields. The judicial authority should be independent while it looks into terrorist cases. The Arab official sees himself as the controller who is never becomes under punishment, whereas the Arab citizen feels week and insignificant and that the authority is the sole ruler.
– Political reform should be based on a self-created vision. This means absolute rejection of the Greater Middle East Initiative launched by the US. Moreover, economic reform should be coupled with political reform involving citizens in the change process for the better.
– Not to set up plans for sought reforms will give impetus to corruption, unemployment, and inflation. Such a situation will not perish terrorism but will encourage it, and stability will be shaken.
– We need to reform the social context in order to achieve social justice shared by all community members. The priority in this respect is to the improvement of family interrelation patterns to build the distinctive individual who is able to responsibly practice his/her liberties and experiences. This entails a reconsideration of the some values that negatively affect life such as the those of submissiveness, obedience, and instating the values of independence, dialogue and positive interaction.
– Media plays a major role in building up the public culture. It has an indispensable role in enhancing pro-development values such as equality, toleration, commitment, and others.
– Arab countries should be geared towards gaining, distributing and producing knowledge. Five integrated aspects should be focused on:
– Emphasis on development of human resources and education.
– Technological development, creating its infrastructure and improving scientific research strategy.
– Encouraging independent occupations, creative initiatives in the field of political, economic and cultural invention.

To guarantee achieving the above mentioned, the following points must be followed:
– Setting criteria for education's output at different stages in a way compatible with international standards and market needs.
– Establishing non-ministerial organizations to monitor quality of education.
– Continuity of state's support for educational institutions, while maintaining their academic independence. Activating the non-profitable community contribution to educational establishments.
– Supporting scientific research and increasing human and financial resources and linking them to production establishments, and removing bureaucratic barriers to knowledge and scientific research.
– Adopting decentralization in managing educational establishments and having flexibility enough to vary their programs.
– Tuning educational output to the market's changing needs and economic growth, and fostering the competitive spirit.
– Inviting the civil community to finance education, managing and inspecting it.
– Ensuring the right of students to enjoy their politcal role including non-violent demonstrations, freedom of expression, and democratic elections for student unions.
– Eradicating illiteracy in not more than 10 years especially among females.
– Taking care of Arabic and developing its syllabuses and executing the comparative evaluation system among Arab countries in the early grades.
– Formulating effective policies such as the just distribution of wealth and production revenue to achieve social stability.

Cultural reform, on the other hand, requires setting up plans to face national cultural challenges: It requires:
– Reinforcing the principles of rational and scientific reasoning by encouraging and financing research establishments, and releasing and developing the civil community liberties. Meanwhile, extremism should be eradicated.
– Encouraging continual renewal of religious speech in order to embody the enlightening civil impact of religion. Intellectuals, researchers and scientists should be given the freedom to think and produce solutions to social problems.
– Going ahead in liberating women's culture and developing it so that they become equal to men in knowledge and work. This will enhance the social participation in its full meanings.
– Creating a cultural atmosphere to achieve democratic development and peaceful transfer of power by combating iron-cast traditions and the consequences of a corrupt policy that excludes effective political participation. Such a battle will change the social and political outlook on women and acknowledge their cultural and scientific contribution as well as their role in the development process. The cultural development is essential for overall development and is the first step towards radical reform, but it can never be obtained unless the culture of democracy is incorporated into school curricula and media messages.
– Reforming and activating cultural organizations through financial and moral support so that they work independently, increase their activity circle, and coordinate their activity with other culture-related authorities.
– Stopping censorship on cultural and intellectual production in order to bolster creativity without custodianship of any side under the name of religion, tradition, originality or politics.
– Advancing mutual enterprises at the nationalist level, epitomizing the principle of mutual dependence in terms of the economics of culture.
– Activating cultural interaction with the whole globe so as to reinforce the creative culture of human diversity, and contributing to international organizations in a way that does not contradict the distinctiveness of our civilization obvious in the human dimensions of our original cultural heritage.
– Focusing on science as a fundamental component of culture and a path towards the public cultural awareness which is the secret of advancement in all fields.
– Documenting the cultural reality in annual data and statistics reporting on production mechanisms and follow-up techniques as well as coordinating efforts in the cultural arena and disseminating their results. The following should be done: Protecting cultural production from censorship and prosecution; Increasing electronic publishing of newspapers, magazines, and books and overcoming distribution problems; Activating public and private translation establishments.

Simply, the greater challenge before us, after the ordeal of Sa'ada, lies in the reconsideration of the governmental bodies' conduct. It is a “to be or not to be” question.