Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Proposal for an Open University in the Arab World

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Proposal for an Open University in the Arab World

Article excerpt

In the recent years we have seen vast scientific and technological developments. There have been corresponding changes in the economical, social, scientific, cultural and educational aspects. To meet these changes, there must be a well-educated and ambitious society. To create this society, there must be new methods applied to solving daily problems.

In education, innovative methods are required to deal with chronic problems preventing development of educational institutes. In addition, huge financial support is needed. Finally, there is more information and advanced technology to transfer it. We seek, therefore, good educational institutes that can accommodate these new knowledge riches and also provide access to it for learners.

If we look at the Arab World, we find that although there are huge budgets and many efforts to upgrade higher educational institutes, there are still many problems to be solved and objectives to achieve.

Student numbers continue to increase, yet many existing Arab universities cannot handle all the incoming graduates. Some Arab countries have built more institutions; other, poorer Arab countries could not do so.

The problem is complicated by our universities' approach of academic specialization, for example, in humanities or science. There is a great need for such specialization, especially in skills crucial to the development of the Arab World.

This problem touches the right of every man and woman to receive higher education. Learning is a right for everybody. Higher education needs are not limited only to school graduates, but also to workers who need to upgrade their job skills to advance their careers. They should be provided with everything new in their fields.

Thus, there should be another way to meet societies' needs, desires and interests. Distance learning in higher education, and in particular, the open university, is that alternative.

But before I present my proposal for the open university, let's look at the current situation of higher education in the Arab World and what is required from those institutes.

* Higher Education in the Arab World

The higher education system in the Arab World is a classical model similar to those in the developed world. Higher education in the Arab World consists of teacher training institutes, technical institutes, community colleges and universities.

University education is available in every country of the Arab World. Most offer academic degrees in various subjects starting from the first degree to post-graduate degrees. Graduates from these universities are qualified to work in sectors such as medicine, engineering, agriculture, law, education, etc.

But Arab universities differ from each other in structure and specializations, making it difficult for students and faculty to exchange experiences. Most universities concentrate on academic purposes rather than society's needs. Technical institutes and community colleges, on the other hand, have strong contact with their nations' needs; they conduct research for industry, agriculture, social development, etc. A lack of meaningful contact and exchange between higher education institutions in the Arab World results in little to no readily available knowledge about each university's goals, offerings or activities.

Each Arab World university has its own policy to decide its curricula and specialization, usually related to the needs of its country. Unfortunately, there is no such formal study that compares the curricula and specialization of all universities.

In the university libraries, there is a duplication in both their work and contents. No strong cooperation exists and so an information network is needed to link them.

In research and consultancy, universities do not often collaborate. Research is duplicated and there are rare occasions of consultancy. Also there is no joint supervision for research between universities. …

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