I was prompted to write this short essay after reading the recently issued report issued by the Ranking Web of Universities which put Arab universities at the tail end of international ranking, which is not only embarrassing but shameful as well.
It is hard to believe that the best ranking is number 383 for the King Saudi University with Cairo University ranking at 724, followed by the American University of Beirut at 826 with the American University of Cairo at 1202.
Kuwait University did not fare any better at 1598 with Qatar University at 1349, Taluk University at 2892 and Universite Ibnou Zhor d’Agadir at 3194. American universities in the Gulf did not fare any better with Texas A&M University in Qatar at 2237 and the American University of Sharja at 1804.
One should not be so surprised with the poor ranking of Arab universities since higher education was not a top priority of Arab governments. If one is to imagine the status of higher education, one will have a heart attack when they discover Arab education in general at the tail end.
Most if not all Arab countries are moving away and abandoning public education (primary and secondary) in favor of private education, this creating two tier systems of education, separate and unequal, one for the rich and the well to do and the other for the poor citizens who could not afford to send their children to expensive private schools. Thus enforcing a “class society”, as if the Arab world does not have its own shares of division and conflicts, not to mention government income loss in favor of the private sector.
Since the Arab world is obsessed with security issues, purchasing arms worth hundreds of billions annually, perhaps they should look at and view education as a national security issue. Poor heavily loaded “religious educations” at the expense of core courses certainlycontributed to the rise and spread of Jihadist ideologies that are threatening not only the security of these countries but their very own existence.
The New Arab Foundation is now organizing an international conference to take place in November this year around Arab education addressing all the issues that makes Arab education in intensive care. I would love therefore to hear your feedback and suggestions as to why Arab education is lacking way behind.