Like oxygen is vital for living, education is vital for understanding the world around us. No nation on this earth, no community, religion or ethnicity in this world, no government of any state can deny the significance that education holds for human beings. Every specie in the world regardless of their size possesses a brain but the reason human are superior to them is because they have been given the ability to use this brain to think, imagine, create and understand. Education is the key that highlights these abilities and enables our minds to greater things in life. The importance for education has been discretely defined in Islam as well. It attaches great importance to acquiring knowledge and encourages individuals to go out of the way to do so. Throughout the world education is considered to be the strongest pillar that every successful nation stands strong upon.
A nation or a country is not considered to be flourishing until and unless they have a high literacy rate. Many individuals have dedicated their lives to the cause of providing better opportunities of knowledge and learning for everyone who seeks it. Education holds the power to civilize nations and to set them on a path to success. Resources can be drained and exhausted, battles can be lost and won, alliances can be made and broken but a nation that stand on the grounds of educated individuals who flourish in every field and who hold knowledge about the important things in the world can never be brought down because such a nation will always have the ability to fall down and stand right back up. This importance has been realized mainly by the west and they have inculcated this principle in their roots. This can be considered one of the reasons of their success in almost every field of life. Some countries have been blessed with individuals or organizations that have tirelessly worked towards establishing top class colleges and universities that offer the world’s best education system and a favorable environment for learning. However there are some countries who have lacked behind in this area. Due to various reasons some developing or even some developed countries fall short when it comes to possessing the best educational institutions.
This has been a persistent problem in the Arab world. Most of the Arab countries are economically strong and developed but somehow their system has never been of the sort that includes education as a priority. They have other strong suits which they effortlessly flourish in but then there are some weak points, in their case it is education, for which they do not hold strong grounds. It is not that the people in power and with positions have not been involved in making this situation better, efforts have been made to restore the historical legacy. The Arab people have made numerous efforts to change this situation and bring positive reforms in the education sector but no matter how hard they try it is bound to take some time before drastic differences can be seen.
What exactly is the problem with the Arab education system?
Before discussing the solutions it is important to have an insight about the actual problem. Let’s take a moment to think whenever we think about the Arab nations what exactly comes to our minds? Extensive oil reserves, lavish palaces and cars, and extravagant lifestyles. Renowned universities and strong education systems are never discussed in the Arab world’s perspective. Just a quick walk down the memory lane reminds us that there was a time when the Arab world was way ahead of the west in every walk of life. They had great thinkers, scholars, chemists, mathematicians and even poets. They made numerous contribution in almost all sorts of subjects and fields. So how did the circumstances change? First of all it is important to be sure of the fact that there are variations among Arab states. Some states do have a better system than the other for example Jordan can be considered one with an upper hand over other Arab countries but then again even inside Jordan only a few exceptions can be seen. Speaking of the entire system, shortcomings are quite evident. The problem lies in the larger picture. One or two exceptions do not change the fact that majority still suffers.
Some account all these problems to be because of the lack of liberal values and democracy. It is believed that the education ministries have a highly centralized role which stops them from performing well. They propose that a liberal form of government with strong principles of transparency can make the situation better. Besides this another core issue lies with the teaching system itself. It is believed that the Arab education system does not settle well with modern teaching techniques. Educationists believe that their system is still mainly dominated by teacher centric policies which means that the teachers dominate everything that happens in the classroom or even in the entire school system. This undermines the thought process of the child and deprives them of the ability to think with an open. Due to this the entire system becomes quite rhetoric and nothing new ever comes off of it. Empowering a child to think out of the box, to imagine, to create and more importantly, to question is what builds societies. However a teacher dominated system creates submissive individuals with less ability to think and innovate. The problem lies in the vicious circle. The circle is simple, lack of good education system will not provide the best education, lack of proper and advanced education will not create outstanding students with free thinking and innovative ideas, due to this the system will always fall short of having progressive and proficient teachers, lack of such teachers will fuel the system to continue as it is and thus the students will never be able to learn new things. The key lies in breaking this vicious circle and breaking free.
What can be the solution for the Arab educational issues?
The first step towards solving a problem is identifying it and realizing it to be an actual hindrance in the road to success because until and unless a shortcoming is not considered a problem efforts can never be made to resolve it. The Arab states have left no stone unturned in trying to change the quantitative issues regarding the educational problems. The budgets allocated to this sector are quite generous which means infrastructural development is without any doubt remarkable. New school buildings are provided which are state of the art with all sorts of facilities that one can possibly ask for. Efforts have also been made to adopt western traits as well like introducing computer based education even in classrooms. Special attention has been paid to improvements in the field of mathematics and science. These subjects are considered to be the most important for the development of any nation hence they have been focused on more as compared to other subjects. But this is still the tip of the iceberg. The actual problem is still not being completely addressed. Substantial success will be achieved when the decades old system is changed. The Arab education system needs to see qualitative changes rather than quantitative changes. The solution to this problem is a system that produces informed citizens who are aware of the circumstances that surround them. This can be done through bringing change in the environment of classrooms. When Arab students start to question from an early age that is when their real success story will start. Teachers need to be capable enough to provide a free atmosphere to the students where they are made comfortable and given the surety that there is nothing wrong with thinking and questioning and that their thoughts are valued. A classroom should not be a place where the teacher gives a lecture and leave and the students jolt all these words that they don’t even understand. Instead it should be a place of open discussion and debate and every individual opinion should be valued. This creates a sense of confidence amongst the students and based on this confidence they can go ahead to bring about some serious substantial changes in the entire system. This is the key to breaking that vicious cycle. When these informed and aware students enter into practical life that is when they will start to bring changes, they will obviously have a different thought process which would enable them to think differently. This change in pattern will eventually lead up to the entire education system being changed. Aware students will go on to make open minded teachers which one then contribute to generations and generations of more informed and socially aware individuals. Considering the atrocities that the Arab world faces, such a change can even prove to be beneficial for the international image and importance of the region as well. Education can make a considerable change for all the Arab countries alike.