Accelerating the development of education

Even amid the obstacles we are confronting there must be change that improves society

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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Even amid the obstacles we are confronting – such as declining oil resources, which makes it harder to fund new and ambitious educational programs – there must be change that improves society. Without rushing and focusing, other development projects will not be able to achieve the desired aims.

Fortunately, all voices arguing against change have been defeated, as they tried and failed to manage educational facilities, so there are not many people who doubt the slogan that developing education is the solution.

In countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco, which are densely populated, education is progressing slowly and is not keeping up with youths’ social progress, skills and abilities.

As I have long followed up on the problems of education in Saudi Arabia, I can detect increasing differences between students, teachers and the curriculum amid the domination of modern technology in people’s lives. There is backward education, yet there is a generation of youths capable of modern education.

Saudi Vision 2030 includes an attempt to improve education and its government institutions by expanding the scope of private education. This includes introducing global educational institutions and giving them a chance to participate. This is a good strategy to resolve the source of the problem, but it may hint that change will be slow.

In countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco, education is progressing slowly and is not keeping up with youths’ social progress, skills and abilities

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Due to the difficult reality, rushing to develop education should be the priority, and competition between educational institutions must be encouraged so society races against time.

Perhaps this is possible by introducing modern technology, emulating successful experiences, focusing on positive change of curricula and educational tools, improving teachers’ competency via intensive courses, linking education and the market, and emphasizing the use of tools to measure success and failure in order to address the latter and resolve it early.

The renaissance plan first requires good quality and guided education. This is a must, despite obstacles related to decreased incomes and the pressures of new reforms. Can universities add majors that teach specific sciences for more specialized jobs so students’ skills improve, as King Fahd University of Petroleum did in the 1980s?

Can a huge university such as Princess Nora University shift to teaching medical services and technology so its female graduates find jobs in a sector where the percentage of citizens is low?

The number of those who objected to reform from within educational institutions has decreased. They used to consider educational reform a form of Westernization. This was all part of campaigns to reject any change, and part of a plan by some people who wanted to control society to prevent it from changing by controlling education. These were naive and scared perspectives that were unaware that change and development are normal in life.

However, they now see that what they have done has caused high unemployment. Fortunately, society itself is moving forward. There are 50 million people who, through their smart phones, get an education outside classrooms.

This clearly shows the difference between the era of the old guardians of education, and the era of their sons and daughters today. The aim is to urge everyone to support rushing changes in education by developing and modernizing it. There is nothing to lose except bad education.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Aug. 29, 2016.
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. He tweets @aalrashed

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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