Al-Askari and colonialism

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Colleague Adel Badawi (Al-Nahar Al-Kuwaiti) conducted a lengthy interview with Professor Suleiman Al-Askari, on April 26, 2023, in which he touched on many issues and concerns.

What caught my eye in the valuable interview was what the military professor, the educational expert, and the director of the Arab Center for Educational Research for the Gulf states mentioned, that the reason for the backwardness of the education systems in the Gulf and Arab countries, which depend on indoctrination and reception from top to bottom and “rejection of criticism,” is the persistence of a culture of domination.

The Ottoman Empire, which occupied us for about 400 years, and despite our liberation from it more than 100 years ago, we lived during it under colonial Western domination, which in turn exploited the “Salafi thought” in confronting the enlightenment movements and the development of education, to keep our country on the path of ignorance and backwardness, until now, there has been a rational movement to build a mass culture that gets rid of the ideology of colonialism, revealing that in Kuwait there are societal forces, including representatives and politically influential blocs, that oppose the development of education and seek to keep Kuwait as it is to maximize their gains.

On the other hand, there are organized and professional gangs targeting our students, seeking to destroy the educational process in exchange for money, expressing his astonishment at the extent of cheating in education, stressing at the same time that we must not tolerate cheaters, cancel all their exams and fail them and ask them to repeat the year.

This requires ministerial stability, which is absent and negatively affecting, not only in education, but in achievement in any institution, indicating that there are many studies, but we need a decision and a rapid implementation mechanism to stop the deterioration of the educational system!

I do not disagree with the majority of what was stated in the interview, but placing the blame on colonialism for our educational backwardness, in the past hundred years, contains some bias that may need clarification!

It is known that the first universities, schools, and colleges were established in our countries by foreign parties, during the colonial period from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; most notably the American University of Beirut (1866), which sought to provide modern education for students in the region. Then came the University of Cairo (1908), which was established by the British “colonial” government in Egypt, and its goal was initially focused on providing training for the colonial administration, but it soon opened up to society.

France also established in Algeria a network of schools and colleges to promote the French language and culture among the local population, and its goal was to “French” education. Then AUC was founded (1919) by American benefactor Charles A. Watson for a noble purpose! Then came the Syrian National University (1923), which was founded by France to train civil servants loyal to the French administration.

This was followed by the Lebanese American University (1924), and the University of Baghdad, which was founded in 1956 with American assistance. All these educational institutions were opposed by the people, especially by the senior clergy. Even the existence of the printing press in our countries was almost forbidden, and for several reasons.

The development of education in the Arab world was not without challenges, which were mostly due to us, such as insufficient funds allocated to it, and failure to compensate for the shortage of qualified faculty members. Political instability and conflicts in the majority of our countries contributed to disrupting the education movement, and this forced experts to flee their homes.

And let us not forget in this rush to address the fact that the establishment of the Mubarakiya School, the first in this country, was carried out with the effort and funding of the people after the ruler Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah refused to contribute to its financing.

The permanent tension, from its day until today, between traditional values and the requirements of education and modern life played a devastating role in the delay in education.

e-mail: [email protected]

Ahmad alsarraf

This news has been read 24570 times!

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