Poor education, the mother of all problems!

The Government Summit being held in Dubai addressed the topic of education

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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The Government Summit being held in Dubai, which attracted politicians and figures of authority from across the world, addressed the topic of education with some speakers, attributing crises to problems in the education system. Some speakers added that reforming the education system is the key to development in the Arab world.

A poor education system is worse than illiteracy because it deludes one into believing he is capable when he is not. Inevitably, one then becomes a source of social diseases, including violence, extremism and ill practices and ends up spreading ignorance within his family, neighborhood and city. Most of what we feed students today is bad education and the outcome is apparent before our very eyes as millions of people stand out as examples of a failed education system.

Failing education is “the mother of all problems” and despite that, few governments are trying to change the situation

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The difference between a good and a poor education system may not be huge and the differences may lie in mere governmental decisions. However, effort and cost are the same and the results are catastrophic at all levels.

Not up to scratch

Since education in our countries is not up to scratch, it’s not strange that we have the highest rate of injuries resulting from car accidents, a high rate of diabetes, prolific squandering of money, the highest rate of servants being employed in households, the highest abuses of human rights, inclding servants' rights, the most sorcery myths, the most subsidies of rice, flour, camel and fuel, desires to escape to foreign countries, rising immigrant populations, disguised unemployment, weak militaries, low incomes and the list goes on and on.

I don’t think anyone is unaware of the civilizational problem in the Arab region. Failing education is “the mother of all problems” and despite that, few governments are trying to change the situation. I previously wrote an article about my joy and disappointment when education strategists in Saudi Arabia distributed 80 million riyals - which late King Abdullah, God’s mercy be upon him, had ordered for education – on real estate and bonuses.

Developing the education system

I hope the newly-assigned minister of education, and old friend, Dr. Azzam al-Dakhil considers what I’ve just mentioned about last year’s announcement regarding developing the education system. Ideas, efforts and funds must be spent on developing education – for example spending funds on e-education and not on buildings would be welcomed. I hope that Gulf countries – which have money in abundance - allocate whatever they can afford to establish an e-learning program that does not only assist their students but also helps all 200 million Arab youths as they all share the same cultural, educational and economic crises and aspire for a better future. This programed education can be a civilized plan that alters the region and helps us to escape this long dark tunnel and it can also bring curricula closer together.

Such a project compensates for the shortage as there are few factories, laboratories, libraries, competent teachers and equipped schools. E-learning remains one of the qualitative solutions that can compensate for this shortage. It’s thus up to education strategists and leaders to look into how to focus on qualitative education and benefit from the experiences of other countries. Countries that lead in teaching sciences and mathematics are not Western. In fact, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan are ahead of others in such education fields. Implementing the solution and achieving change may indeed require 50 years but politicians must identify the root of the crises and work collectively to reform education in order to reform society and progress towards a better future.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on February 11, 2015.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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