Education & Development in Islamic World
* Translated material
The development & the education interface at the human capabilities. Education is a development of the human capabilities while development is an investment of the human capabilities. Moreover, the two processes of developing & investment of the human capabilities interchange support. The developing of the human capabilities would help maximize their investment while investment of the human capabilities would help augment their development. Hence, it is true to say that the education & the development interrelate not only closely & reciprocally but also, in some aspects or levels, conditionally. The realization of the development, in its comprehensive technical sense, is conditional on education while realization of education requires as condition development of the human capabilities. Nevertheless, the interchange of the support by the development & the education requires that they should be interconnected in a positive correlation & as much as this correlation is enhanced & optimized the mutual benefit between the development & education is maximized. However, the relation between the education & the development is not, as it would seem on first consideration, necessarily a positive relation or a direct correlation. A faulty education may not only fail to produce development but it may also hinder it. Similarly, a faulty or defective development may have negative impacts on education.
Since the development is a change for the better, education is not expected to be fully effective in enhancing the development process unless it becomes a tool of change for the better, in other words, becomes a developmental tool. Nevertheless, education is not always & necessarily developmental. It can be an advantage or disadvantage of the development depending on its aims, curricula & methods & only in presence of efficient qualified teachers, efficient management, sufficient resources & proper environment not only inside but also outside the school & the house. For many reasons some or all of the said factors may fail to be advantageous enough to realize or enhance developmental education. Some of those reasons may be inevitable necessities or natural difficulties which are not man made though several of them may be unintended products of the man’s deeds. Other reasons may be intentionally fabricated by some forces interested in hampering the developmental education for one purpose or other such as the desire to avoid the possible threat which the developmental education may pose, at least at the long term, to some of their interests or values.
As the development requires various numerous inputs & constituents, the education, though required as an essential condition, is not alone sufficient to bring into being & sustain a comprehensive development. Therefore, even if it could partially be developmental in a disadvantageous environment, the education will be of little or, perhaps, no ability or use to launch or sustain a comprehensive development in absence of other inputs & constituents.
Education & Development in Islamic World: Malfunctioning Relation
In reality, the development-education relation would always have some positive & other negative aspects. It, therefore, may be called positive or negative relation only relatively or comparatively. Considering that, it may be noted that while one of the two parties to this dialogue, namely Japan, maintains a positive education-development relation, the other party i.e. the Islamic world, seemingly with few exceptions, maintains a quite defective & malfunctioning education-development relation.
The defectiveness or malfunctioning of the education- development relation in the Islamic world is due to various local & external/ international reasons & factors the most important of which may summarized as follows:
The defective / malfunctioning education-development relation in the Islamic world was largely caused by the prevailing local & international environment disadvantageous to both the development & the education in the Islamic world. This disadvantageous environment affects the education, development & their interrelation in the Islamic world in many aspects & ways. These–for instance only- include, from the local environment, the foreign investment discouraging setting & the imbalance between the population & economic growth rates as well as, from the international environment, the unfair international economic order & international interferences/interventions which not only impede but also, sometimes, ruin the developmental achievements & bring to halt the education process ( Iraq may be considered as the latest example).
However, what here are more significant, for being more relative to the theme of this presentation, are the environment’s negative effects on any of the development or education that, in turn, have negatives consequences on the other, in other words, the environment’s negative effects on the education- development relation. From this perspective, it is evident that the environment in the Islamic world is partially responsible for the lower rate of the school age children joining the schools, high rate of discontinuing the study & the students’ moderate average rate of assimilation. It is not difficult to notice that these negative effects of the environment on the education have their adverse consequences on the development. Perhaps, the environment disadvantages most detrimental to the education & development in the Islamic world are the ones which result in distressing the willingness or impairing the abilities of the educationally qualified human resources to make quality scientific/ developmental efforts or accomplishments. Some of those disadvantages, such as the development disadvantageous cultures & norms & development disadvantageous official policies & laws, impose, respectively, self-made moral limitations & external restrictions on the qualified human resources abilities/willingness to make developmental or scientific accomplishments at least in the same environment as of the Islamic world. Others, such as exhaustion of most of the resources & time in pursuit of the life necessities, distract many of the educationally qualified resources from the scientific creativity or great developmental accomplishments while others, such as the low remunerations, discourage the educational excellence & developmental distinction.
Such disadvantages, coupled with the attractive opportunities of pursuing academic or research work or joining lucrative jobs in the developed countries, led to extensive emigration of specially but not only the not many highly qualified human resources in the Islamic countries outside the Islamic world resulting in the so-called brain hemorrhage. Thus, the Islamic world looks as if it is employing or dedicating not only its education system / institutions but also a considerable amount of its meager financial resources to qualify & prepare human resources to meet not the Islamic world but, strangely enough, the developed mainly western countries’ requirements of qualified human resources!.
In addition to the development disadvantageous environment, both the education & the development in the Islamic world experience some self faults or defects which further affect negatively their as well as their interrelation efficiency.
The development in the Islamic world experiences some self defects on the conceptual, planning & implementation levels. Among the conceptual or visional defects come the lack of enough clarity & the seemingly endless controversies over some contradicting main attitudes or approaches. Such controversies often go beyond peaceful exchange of views & counterviews, under appealing to the majority rule, to extent of implication of the involved parties in attempts to try to hinder the developmental efforts of each other in a manner that weakens the outcome of all the total developmental efforts. Two of the development concept relevant issues which commonly & almost unavoidably provoke in the Islamic world controversies detrimental to the development are the role of Islam & the stance on the Western development pattern over which the traditional views & ideas in the Islamic world are harmfully contradicting. The planning defects include lack of pan-Islamic integration, poor grass roots participation, & provincial imbalance. While the poor participation discourages the grass roots from actively undertaking its important role in implementing the development plans, the provincially imbalanced plans led in some Islamic countries to political disturbances or regional rebellions that hampered the whole process of development.
Certainly, the education in various Islamic countries enjoys some varying scientific & developmental efficiency. This can be, if required, substantiated by many points & achievements including the remarkable scientific accomplishments made by some of the Islamic world graduates working in a better environment abroad & the varying standards of development particularly the relatively high standards achieved by some Islamic countries. Nevertheless, it is evident that the efficiency in the Islamic world is generally quite less than it should have been or compared to the education developmental efficiency achieved by the other party to this dialogue (Japan). The many educational reasons for the low scientific & developmental efficiency of the education in at least most of the Islamic countries include the lack of creative, innovative & student- centered approaches & methods of teaching; lack of proper correlation between the education plans & the development plans & proper linking of those plans to the society needs & local resources mobilization requirements; shortage in the practical demonstration & field study in teaching the professional disciplines & applied sciences, & the development discouraging contents (negative conceptions & ideas) of some subjects. The poor average performance of the teachers / professors, the high students: teacher ratios, limited total uptake of the educational institutions & the relatively high schooling cost (the last two resulting in keeping the illiteracy rate high) also contribute to the low efficiency of the education system in the Islamic world.
Consequently, it seems that the education in the Islamic world has not yet fully become a change tool. It, therefore, may not be easy to find fault with those who may have the feeling that perhaps the education is being misused, at least in some of the Islamic countries, to maintain or prolong a disadvantageous status quo & protect the interests of some dominant political / apolitical forces. Such feeling may be further augmented by the ongoing controversy over some educational issues such as the curricula & syllabi of the non- formal education, banning or allowing teaching of some subjects/ concepts &, though subtly, secularity or religiousness of the education which all are manifestations or symptoms of the local & international struggle for the education in the Islamic world.
Education & Development in Islamic World: The Reform
In view of the above, it is obvious that the present situation of the education, development & their interrelation in the Islamic world calls for urgent reform to the education system, development process, education-development relation as well as the overall environment in the Islamic world. Therefore, one can’t but feel bound to support the present domestic & foreign calls for the reform notwithstanding the apprehensions that-firstly – these calls may not be more than mere another form or phase of the ongoing struggle for the education in the Islamic world or- secondly- that the prevailing political nature of the motives behind those calls may make the reform stops short of, or deviate away from, being, as should be, an objective & comprehensive reform.
It may be fair to hope that this forum shall contribute to enabling the Islamic world benefit from the Japanese successful pattern or experiment in respect of optimizing the education-development relation. The forum may, therefore, consider the convenience of proposing / initiating some particular proceedings or an ad hoc body to facilitate sharing of experience in this extremely important field.
* Translated by: Translation Section, Al-Mansour Foundation, Sana’a.