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A new strategy to raise standard of education

An American collaboration to upgrade our educational system could be of great benefit for our students and teachers

Samar Fatany

Published: Updated:

Francis Ricciardone, the President of the American University in Cairo (AUC), held talks with senior officials in the Ministry of Culture and Information in a bid to develop a new strategy to increase academic cooperation with partners in the region.

His visit was significant because it comes at a time when there is uncertainty about the new American administration. Ricciardone, who is also a former diplomat, told reporters that under the new Trump administration, “American globalized audiences are concerned about America’s place in the world, and want to study and learn the true story about Islam and Muslims.”

He urged the need for American Arab cooperation and said, “There are bigots in the West and the East who want to build walls and paint each other as fanatics and murderers. Sadly, they’re having some success and they’re causing fear.”
He emphasized the importance of education saying: “Education is the way, and the AUC is the vehicle that brings together Arabs and Americans.”

The AUC President’s offer is an indication that all is not lost between the US and the Arab world. An American collaboration to upgrade our educational system could be of great benefit for our students and teachers. Academic experts urge the need to adopt best practices from reputable academic institutions, like the (AUC), to raise the level of our schools and universities.

One of the most positive initiatives to address the problem so far is the Irtiqa’a program that measures the effectiveness of Saudi parents’ engagement in their children’s education

Samar Fatany

Standard of education

In line with the new vision and the alarming threat of terrorism, seeking academic cooperation with reputable academic institutions is critical to promoting a high standard of education that can counter the intolerance that has led to extremism, violence and conflict.

In order to develop society economically and culturally, educationists are required to change the rigid mindset that rejects anything that is foreign and refuses to adopt a modern approach to a progressive life.

One of the most positive initiatives to address the problem so far is the Irtiqa’a program that measures the effectiveness of Saudi parents’ engagement in their children’s education. The objective of the program is to engage 80 percent of Saudi parents in school activities by 2020. The idea is to encourage the participation of parents in the learning process of their children.

The implementation of this program is very much needed to produce better educational standards among students and engage parents in their children’s upbringing. This will allow parents to discipline their children and build character in our youth with proper guidance and support.

Meanwhile, academic experts assert the importance of developing our school curriculum and introducing the English language and updated knowledge. Students graduate with little or no language skills. They struggle to write any official document and lack eloquence, which makes them inefficient at any job they take. Saudi educators urge the need to teach English at an early age.

English was introduced in Grade 4 in primary schools for boys and girls in the 2011-2012 academic year. The Ministry of Education also announced that it is planning to teach the language below Grade 4. Meanwhile, many parents are enrolling their children in international schools because they want them to be fluent in English, the global language of science, business and technology.

Qualified teachers

Education is fundamental to the development of every nation. If we are to provide quality education for our students we need qualified teachers who can enhance creative and critical thinking. We need to invest in boosting the teaching profession and empowering educationists with updated knowledge and modern technology to increase their respect among students in our schools.

The Arab nation cannot catch up with advanced countries without developing education and abandoning old ineffective teaching techniques.

Reforming our educational system remains a critical challenge. Our nation will not prosper if we continue to lag behind the fast developing countries of the 21st century. We need a new strategy to raise educational standards. Supporting international academic institutions in the Arab world could be of great benefit to our students, some of whom may no longer feel safe to travel beyond the Middle East.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on January 28, 2016.
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Samar Fatany is a Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station. Over the past 28 years, she has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs and has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the kingdom. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She has published three books: “Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women towards a new era” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.”

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