"The most important indicator for education is innovation, and that can only be boosted through responsible freedom of thinking and speech."
Lack of data and statistics is a major challenge that hampers the production of indicators for education in the Arab region. It also affects the development and sustainability of the whole process, experts said.
However, education indicators produced as part of the Arab Knowledge Index - unveiled in the second edition of the Knowledge Summit 2015 - are better, and more thorough and pertinent to the region than the globally accredited ones.
Professor Mohammed Ismail, head of statistics department, College of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, said data and figures are "indispensable" for consistent measurement and results. "Otherwise, the indicators upon which development is based will be misleading."
Nahoa Al Ghriss, a professor at the Higher Institute of Education and Continuous Training, Tunisia, said proper education is key to empowering individuals. "Life skills, right environments and lifetime or continuous learning are indispensable for empowering individuals to lead the development process in the Arab region in a better way."
Unlike international indicators, which focus only on quantitative results or attainment, the education indicators presented in the Arab Knowledge Index 2015 carefully consider values, trends, culture and qualitative sides.
"The education indicators of the Unesco and International Bank focus more on the number of students, teachers, school, and so forth, but ignore students' values, trends, and culture, and also give no solution to the problems diagnosed."
It is imperative that families be given the "right educational sources" to help their children prepare for what they will be learning in school, she underlined. "As such, financial resources or expenditure on education, as well as cultural dimension or attainment, political climate and social dimension represented by social justice are inevitable for a successful education process."
Prof Essam Heggy, Egyptian NASA scientist and lecturer, said the key mission of international universities is to dig for new ideas. Arab universities, however, are actually more concerned about developing awareness, promoting tolerance and considering man as the basis for real development.
"This is much better for Arab universities, even if ranked below other universities according to other education indicators, but as per our indicators here, our universities have a vital role in society."
The young Arab people are open to the world and this is very promising, he said. "The most important indicator for education is innovation, and that can only be boosted through responsible freedom of thinking and speech."
Early Muslims were champions of fighting slavery and defending equality of men and women. "We are only conservative with values, but open with innovation."
Source : Khaleej Times