WENR, Nov./Dec. 2001: Middle East
School Curriculum under Reform
Efforts are once again under way to reform the national school curriculum in Egypt. Under the leadership of the National Center for Curriculum and Instructional Materials Development, primary and preparatory texts have been revised, and secondary texts are now undergoing revision — all in response to the recognized lack of sufficient educational resources.
In the last 10 years, national conferences have been held to develop and reform the curriculum; primary-school syllabuses have been revised three times. Some say it is not the syllabuses that are the problem, but rather the way the coursework is taught.
— Al-Ahram Weekly Online
Sept. 13-19, 2001
Psychometric May Get Boot
The Israeli Cabinet adopted legislation in September that no longer requires students to take the Psychometric, a standardized test equivalent to the SAT, to gain admission to Israel’s public universities. This law, if ratified by the Israeli parliament, would make high school diplomas the only prerequisite for admission, a policy strongly advocated by Minister of Finance Silvan Shalom. Currently, most public university programs do not select students on the basis of personal interviews and extracurricular activities. Instead, students are ranked and chosen based on the scores they receive on the Psychometric and national high school graduation exams. Minister of Education Limor Livnat supports the current system. However, the final decision on whether or not to implement the new law will be up to the parliament.
— The Chronicle of Higher Education
Sept. 21, 2001
Beirut University Enrollments Expected to Increase
In response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafik Al Hariri warned universities in Beirut to prepare themselves for a massive influx of Middle Eastern students leaving the United States because of anti-Arab and -Muslim harassment.
In addition, Lebanon is counting on enrolling larger numbers of students from the oil-rich Gulf Arab states as a way of injecting new life into the country’s sluggish economy. Beirut’s Lebanese American University enrolled more than 30 students this year from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. The American University of Beirut received 21 students from the Gulf. The increased student enrollments give hope to the possibility that Beirut could reemerge as the education capital of the Middle East.
— Middle East Times
Oman Encourages Growth of Private Sector Universities
Sultan Qaboos of Oman recently signed a new law allowing the private sector to play a more active role in providing and promoting higher education. The new royal decree grants private universities generous cash incentives to encourage the establishment of private universities in major town outside Muscat.
The state-run Sultan Qaboos University, which currently enrolls 2,200 students, can no longer meet the growing demand for higher education in the country. A high-powered Higher Education Council has since been formed with the aim of creating facilities for the private sector to set up private universities in the country outside Muscat.
Sohar University, Oman’s first private university, opened its doors to students last September. The Omani news agency reported that the new institution would contribute to upgrading levels of higher education and scientific research, and will specialize in modern scientific fields.
— Gulf News
Aug. 29, 2001
New School Ends State Control over Education
State control over the education sector officially ended in September with the opening of Syria’s first foreign-owned institution. At the inauguration ceremony Syria’s minister of education said that the opening of the International School of Choueifat in Damascus was part of the government’s plan to “improve and modernize” the country’s system of education. She went on to say that by opening up education to the private sector the government hopes to curb the number of students leaving Syria to pursue their studies abroad.
The school plans to enroll up to 500 students between the ages of three and 16 this year, but expects to receive as many as 3,000 students by the year 2003. Arabic and English will be taught as basic languages, and French will be offered as a second language.
The new institution is part of the Saad and Bastani school network (SABIS), which was established in 1886. SABIS schools are recognized by educational authorities all over the world, and their qualifications are accepted by many universities.
Syria does have several private elementary, preparatory and secondary schools, but up until now they have been tightly controlled by the state and apply the national curriculum. The American French and Pakistani private schools primarily serve the expatriate community in Syria and their qualifications, which do not include Arabic, are not recognized by the government.
— Middle East Times
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
New Media Center to Open
Zayed University has created a Center for Media Training and Research in response to the increasing number of students seeking careers in the media industry. Located at the university’s Dubai Media City, the center’s training courses and workshops will be offered for “mid-career” media and communication workers, starting in February 2002.
The program will offer an elective English language program, which will benefit those working in the communications field by preparing them for a bilingual society.
— Gulf News
July 11, 2001
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