Sounds Good, but How?

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Mon 12 December / Dec 2016. 01:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

I was reading through the material of the 10th Arab Education Ministers convention in Jordan, particularly the document prepared on the reality of schooling in our Arab World; and I was ecstatic.

Going through it all, one would find themselves confronted with a deep and thorough debate on the status of education in our countries, as well as before a precise diagnosis of the problems and crises of our systems, including shortcoming assessment platforms, all the way to obsolete tools and mechanisms, which hinders the advancement of education outputs, and lags our graduates behind the trail and requirements of knowledge, economy, and citizenship alike!

Jordanian Minister of Education, Dr Mohammad Thuneibat, pointed to the necessity of transparency and the courage it requires to openly discuss and identify our problems; to forgo our typical denial. He also confirmed that there is indeed an Arab resolve to address education… so on, so forth!

Kudos for all that, theoretically; it all sounds reasonable and nice… Practically speaking, how do we actually institute the change we need and start a qualitative shift in the quality of our education in reality?! That is the question.

Now, two days ago, His Majesty met with the presidents of public schools, and reaffirmed the importance of putting an end to university violence, as He recapped His explicit and clear statement “University Violence is a red line”, and this isn’t the first time the King meets with deans of public universities over the years, and over the very same topic. So what is the real obstacle for change? What is hindering change or derailing it?

Going back to the documents and literatures of proposed post and under graduate education reforms, these strategies and studies sound magnificent; waterproof, downright publishable.

So what is the problem? Why are we going around in circles?

To be honest, the real problem is the all-too-well-known fact that —Arabs— are good talkers, and have a keen eye for diagnosis and deconstruction, but we are pretty lousy when it comes to constructing steps and cumulative action towards addressing our problems and resolving our crises.

Let us think, for a second, in a different way; let’s flip the equation, to make a difference, so that education is prioritised, instead of arms, security, and the military.

Seeing as Arab states have been presiding the list of top spenders on armaments, and the least spenders on education, let’s flip it downside up. Let us allocate real resource for the development and advancement of education and teachers, economically, scientifically, and administratively.

Do we start with curriculum and assessment tools and platforms to integrate culture, sports, arts, music, and other life arts as was put by the Arab ministers of education? And why not learn from the Finnish expertise in the field, who happen to be the world’s pioneers in education?!

Previously, I had spoken to you about Dr Ibrahim Badran’s book, “Clouded Minds”, on the crisis of education in the Arab World, and I wondered: how come Dr Badran did not succeed as Minister of Education, in spite of his vast culture and deep insight? I ask this question because I am convinced he is one of our top well learned, distinct professionals, whose answer may actually enlighten us on the hindrances of education and its advancement, so that we may actually know where to begin.

Yesterday, I was reading a book by Shadi Qahwaji, titled “When I Began to Change”, in Arabic. He raises the topic human will in the contexts of a brief experience with weight loss, inducing a profound understanding on will, change, self-development, life’s philosophy, and everyday management of our lives.

As ministers address education development, this particular discipline; self-development, happens to be a crucially important topic for our students. This line of subjects should be taken into real consideration, because our problem in the Arab World is that the average Arab human is still suspended in dream, sometimes even unconscious, and detached from the constraints of time and place, alien to logic and addressing results. Mohammad Jabber Ansari once said: we want to whisk imperialism out of our countries today, but we have not even bothered to clean our own doorsteps.