GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

 
AUTHOR NAME
 
Family Name:
Anahit
 
First Name:
Pashayan
 
ABSTRACT OF PAPER
 
Title of Paper:
Educational chalenges in Gulf region
 
Paper Proposal Text :
Abstract
1. The Arabian Gulf education sector appears to be eager to emulate the
American model of higher education in pursuit of the observed success of Knowledge
economies. American institutions of higher education have been producing
employable graduates, successful businessmen and entrepreneurs, and competent
professionals, teachers, and researchers who are the productive force behind the
massive amounts of highly sophisticated research, publications, and creative works.
2. For successful implementation of the American model in non-American
environment, educators and higher-education authorities need to be clear about the
salient features of existing local systems of education, the salient features of American
higher education, where the gaps and differences are and how they impact the
outcomes.
3. Some of the major aspects of American higher education are not being
replicated in the Arabian Gulf institutions aiming to emulate the American collegemodel. Educators need to explore the value and applicability of specific institutional
frameworks and academic and pedagogical approaches practiced by American
colleges and universities in achieving the desired outcomes in a different cultural and
social context.
4. The dynamics of knowledge production invite a search for the best
strategies to achieve a balance between the flexibility and diversity of the American
college curricula, international standards of quality assurance, and the responsiveness
of new universities to the local needs.
5. The Arabian Gula region has been profoundly influenced by the British
model of higher education which preceded the introduction of the American model.
The American universities historically differed from the European system which
divided educational and research tasks among select universities, professional
institutes, and Academies of Sciences.
6. The aspiration of the Gulf states to quickly develop knowledge-based
economies brings into question the role assigned to the institutions and practitioners of
higher education in achieving this goal. American higher education is distinguished by
co-existence of Liberal Arts colleges alongside the large research universities. Liberal
Arts colleges are noted for putting the scholar-teacher in the classroom and for
producing a disproportionately high share of graduate students and advanced-degree
holders in non-Liberal Arts fields.
7. Numerous studies have demonstrated the career-building potential of
Liberal-Arts education among American and international leaders of the industry,
business, and governments. However, the race for developing the national
professional classes leads to importation of selected professional programs from
distinguished American universities rather than building integrated colleges of Arts &
Sciences.8. The rapid changes in economies, communication, and societies brought about
by globalization and progress in information technology lead us away from educating
narrowly-trained graduates to broad-based general education, interdisciplinary and
multidisciplinary teaching, and to integration of academic knowledge with applied
skills. These needs require great flexibility and autonomy of educational institutions in
determining its choices of curricula, syllabi, and faculty than those the new institutions
of higher learning currently face in the Arabian Gulf region.
The Arabian Gulf education sector appears to be eager to emulate the American model
of higher education in pursuit of the observed success of “knowledge economies.”
American institutions of higher education have been producing employable graduates,
successful businessmen and entrepreneurs, and competent professionals, teachers,
and researchers who are the productive force behind the massive amounts of highly
sophisticated research, publications, and creative works. Historically, the countries in
the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region were dominated by European-style
educational systems. Considerable efforts by national governments to bring education
to the citizens and to raise the level of the national workforce have not been completely
successful despite considerable resource commitment within the framework of
established schools and post-secondary institutions. American education is seen as the
answer to the continuing and expanding need for producing highly-trained, employable
and flexible national graduates with life-long learning skills and good work attitude.
Professional grounding and broad inter-disciplinary undergraduate underpinnings
typical of US college curricula are valued by employers as highly as communication
skills and team-work training. This paper focuses on the phenomenon of proliferation of
American-model universities in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
and on some particular issues arising in the process of transplanting the American
model to the Gulf.
Established American colleges and universities in the Middle East like American
University of Beirut and American University of Cairo for decades were a popular
destination for college students from the Gulf who could not or did not choose to go tothe West for their post-secondary education. However, the demographics of GCC
countries, with their quickly expanding college-age population on the one hand and the
political and socio-economic considerations related to the development of the national
work force for the 21st century, have combined to promote the new approaches to
higher-education policies, sometimes in tandem with reforms of primary and secondary
school education.
Several developments in particular merit notice:
· Private colleges and universities are being licensed to reduce pressure on
national (state-supported) institutions;
· Private universities in the Gulf are required or expected to have a foreign
(usually Western) partner institution of higher learning as a guarantor of
academic quality and integrity. American partners are expected of
American-model local institutions.
· Private universities are required to obtain local accreditation and
encouraged, even pressured by government authorities to seek international
accreditation for their institutions and programs.
· American universities, especially highly-ranked ones, are being invited to
open branch campuses in the GCC counties. Qatar’s Education City1 is the
most prominent example of a US branch campus experiment. A cluster of
distinguished US universities bringing their (mostly applied, professional)
programs to Doha is one alternative to sending a limited number of Qatari
high-school graduates to the United States at government expense.
· GCC countries vary in their approaches to American partnerships – while
Qatar provides national funding (via Qatar Foundation) to a mix of mostly
private American universities, Kuwait favors creation of locally-owned
private universities and colleges whose boards or investors choose their
American or other international partners. Several US public universities
recently announced their plans for opening branches in the Gulf (e.g.,
Michigan State University, University of California at Berkeley, University of
Texas at Austin). Besides American and American-partnered institution,
post-secondary English-language instruction is provided by British,Australian, Canadian and most recently, Indian universities, colleges, and
institutes.
For successful implementation of the American model in non-American
environment, educators and higher-education authorities need to be clear about the
salient features of existing local systems of education, the salient features of American
higher education, where the gaps and differences are and how they impact the
outcomes. In addition to awareness, there must be a broad agreement as to the
desirability of the American model and the understanding of what factors to lead to the
success of that model in the United States: both within the system and in the particular
environment of the United States. The value of the American college degree is
acknowledged to be high, both in terms of the education and training received and in
the intangible benefits it confers, such as the prestige of certain American universities,
the frequently life-forming student-life experience of the American campus, and the
perception of the transfer of American work-ethic qualities to the Gulf environment
when graduates return to their home countries with an American degree.
Nevertheless, it has to be acknowledged that some of the major aspects of
American higher education are not being replicated in the Arabian Gulf institutions
aiming to emulate the American college model. Educators need to explore the value
and applicability of specific institutional frameworks and academic and pedagogical
approaches practiced by American colleges and universities in achieving the desired
outcomes in a different cultural and social context. The GCC countries have a relatively
recent national history, relatively young national education systems, and an
approximately similar history of educational philosophies and of post-WWII (for Saudi
Arabia) or post-independence (for the rest of GCC countries), oil-fueled national
investment in educational structures and education engineering.
In recent years, motivated by the UN, UNESCO, and World Bank reports
revealing the inadequacies of historical policies for the 21st century, many MENA
countries have embarked on campaigns of educational reform. In GCC, this has been
the case of Qatar and Kuwait, in particular. Nevertheless, despite this relatively
homogeneous historical background vis-a-vis the West, the GCC countries are not of arevealing the inadequacies of historical policies for the 21st century, many MENA
countries have embarked on campaigns of educational reform. In GCC, this has been
the case of Qatar and Kuwait, in particular. Nevertheless, despite this relatively
homogeneous historical background vis-a-vis the West, the GCC countries are not of a
Proceedings of the 4th International Barcelona Conference on Higher Education
Vol. 6. Higher education for intercultural dialogue and
multiculturalism
GUNI - Global University Network for Innovation – www.guni -rmies.net
mind when it comes to the American college model. While the regulatory factors seem
to apply to all foreign-model institutions of higher learning alike, some other aspects of
the regional policies and practices need to be looked at in light of their impact on the
adoption of the American college model in the Gulf.
· U.S. institutions are encouraged or invited to bring to the Gulf business,
professional or pre-professional programs (with few exceptions, these are
undergraduate).
· Local institutions, while almost invariably calling themselves universities, do not
seek to develop full arts-and-sciences curricula with majors in the traditional
disciplines typical of the American liberal-arts college model. Rather, they build
programs with emphases on business and technical programs (including ICT), with
English being the dominant humanities discipline.
· One aspect of the early success of new American-model institutions in the Gulf is
the public demand for American-style education without the need to send the
students to the United States where they might face the post-2001 atmosphere of
student visa regulations and reporting requirements as well as the perceived
cultural tensions.
· The post-2001 cultural atmosphere in the region has been ambivalent vis-à-vis the
United States. Politically, the goodwill created in the 1991 Gulf War fought by the
United States-led coalition to liberate Kuwait from Iraq has been damaged the
United States current involvement in Iraq and the US administration’s position on
the Palestinian and Lebanese issues. Culturally, conservative religious attitudes are
on the rise in some circles in the Gulf, advocating caution toward the imported
foreign models of education and blaming foreign influences for irresponsible or
inappropriate behavior of Arab youths. In the media environment saturated with
American movies, television broadcasts, CDs and DVDs, “foreign” often implies
American for the general public. By extension, the families who choose an
American-style university for their children may be ambivalent despite their choice:
they want the prestige and quality of American education, but wish to limit the
social and intellectual impact of “foreign” qualities associated with critical thinking,
secular attitudes or coeducational practices.
 
 
 

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