Working Paper, entitled ،،Higher Education Systems: Futuristic Vision,, , Presented by Prof. Dr. Gaber Nassar, Cairo University President

Working Paper, entitled ،،Higher Education Systems: Futuristic Vision,, , Presented by Prof. Dr. Gaber Nassar, Cairo University President

 At Second University Chancellors Forum on the fringe of World Government Summit 2016 Dubai _ United Arab Emirates

I have no doubt that any strategic planning for future should give education priority taking social, developmental and demographic dimensions into consideration at the level of the whole Arab World and each country. It should also consider international variables, as our society is not in isolation from the world which became a small universal village.

Futuristic outlook should govern the track of education, notably those whom we educate are being graduated in future. This futuristic human needs new quality of education that offers him life style and work style… new quality that depends on learning instead of studying, searching instead of copying, dialoguing instead of listening, and the ability to disagree instead of absolutely conforming to common ideas.  

National challenge now is development and security achievement. This challenge increases before our eyes especially with the dangerous situation which refers to high illiteracy rate in our country despite the passage of more than seventy five years since publishing ،،The Future of Culture in Egypt,, by Taha Hussein in year 1938.

This problem worsens by the exclusion of most of our Arab universities from international rankings. Therefore, the current phase poses many challenges:

How can concern for education be focused on thinking methods, fact disclosure, and creativity promotion? How can student and researcher ability to achieve vital goals of national state, as one of the most important national security definitions, be enhanced? How can the gap between the poor and the rich be reduced in education nature and opportunities? How can optimum climate of educational process quality be provided? How can we get our graduates to reach the global level which qualifies them to broadly enter labor market?  

Answering these challenges can never be just by wishing, but by clear vision of education and scientific research future and new thought that reflects new philosophy for education based on developing research project design, state cases search and needs identification. A new science feature is ،،application,, which is called in the language of economy ،،quick return,,.  

All this has no value in case of the absence of responsible, aware, free and critic personality. Making a personality able to politically, ideologically and managerially work is an important educational process because education is the most influential factor in personality equation.

This meaning may be near to the perspective meant by Taha Hussein in his book ،،The Future of Culture in Egypt,, when he said that science institutions are not merely schools, but they are, after all, environments of culture in its broadest meaning.

I am sorry to say that until now we do not have clear or specific national strategy. We do not even have social philosophy to build our approach in education and scientific research upon. Therefore, developing single and large-scale educational and research five-year strategy is a must.

In this paper, I am going to tackle strategic development features looked forward to in education, according to our experience in Cairo University. This is going to be based on three levels that the organizers of second University Chancellors Forum, on the fringe of World Government Summit, determined for my paper. 

Level One: Educational Patterns and Styles:

The case of political and social liquidity and the crisis-affected atmosphere of the dialog witnessed now among Arab World States with all their spectrums invite us to re-consider the first side of educational process, namely, traditional educational styles or teaching methods as responsible for societal inability to engage in productive and operative dialogue. Thus, new teaching methods based on Dialogical Pedagogy should be pursued. Dialogical Pedagogy aims at graduating free, aware personality that is able to dialogue without being bumptious to, which leads to growth in composing new situations and opinions.

This is the purpose of the famous book،، Education for Critical Consciousness,, by Paulo Freire as Dialogical Pedagogy versus banking education in which teacher put knowledge into the student mind. Banking education maintains the status quo, whereas education should be ،،the practice of freedom,, ,another book by Paulo Freire in which he confirms that dialog has totalitarian basis that creates a potential in human to discuss and re-shape real elements for his identity and, consequently, contributes to changing the world.

In this context, the importance of developing teaching regulations and systems is evident so as not to put pressure upon student with scientific subject to a degree with which he/she cannot think at a distance from it. Here, the importance of different educational patterns and styles are evident, and they are all integrated methods that should all be utilized; such as:

1.      Project method that Dewey professed.

2.      Learning by discovery (supervised discovery, semi-supervised discovery, and free discovery) whether it is inductive or inferential.

3.      Collaborative cooperative learning with its different stages: cognition stage, collaborative work criteria crystallization stage, productivity stage, and ending stage.        

4.      Programmed self-learning and self-learning using computer modules.

5.      Learning by modeling: one of the technical methods to provide individuals or groups with ideas, experiences and righteous behavior patterns. It depends on models in transferring educational experience.

6.      Learning problem-solving behavior with its known steps:

a.       Identifying the problem.

b.      Defining the problem.

c.       Reaching assumptions.

d.      Evaluating assumptions.

e.       Generalization.

Level two: Academic Management:

Academic management is responsible for educational institution. There is no doubt that management systems have largely developed at modern age, however, there are still many institutions in the Arab World that are managed in old methods being out of date and out of the age of technology.

Thus, the most recent global systems for guaranteeing education quality and accreditation should be implemented as well as evaluating performance and applying academic criteria with all its levels in educational management and programs, and moving forward briskly on efforts of composing electronic academic management that fundamentally relies on information systems in management, education and scientific research. This is going to be conducted through mechanizing all managerial operations. The process of mechanization cannot be complete except with preparing digital student ID that includes all the study data of student starting from joining education until the stage the student reached. (Our experience at Cairo University).

All this has no value without parallel technical training for specialists and technicians because structure including devices, equipment and means of management cannot lead to operative development without human force that believes in effective good usage and employment of academic managerial performance. At the same level of the importance of possessing devices and equipment, self-training on ،،good usage and employment,, is a must. Many institutions aspire to multiply the number of computers they possess, however, we should all realize that ،،data quality,, that these devices contain is not of less importance than computerized software and equipment.

The success of academic management system cannot be complete without the standardization of ،،governing legislation system of education,, through a single general law of education and an accurate, clear single executive regulation that represents a general governing umbrella. This is in condition that the governing umbrella allows at the same time special regulations of education institutions and universities to make independent character for each of them in the framework of their strategic objectives as scientific, economic institutions that have full academic, managerial and financial freedom in the framework of transparency and societal questioning. This is going to be conducted by acting perspectives that determine the roles and responsibilities of governing authorities in higher education management and creating entities able to manage the system in a modern way to achieve the goals of strategic plan efficiently. This is in case that faculties and educational entities have internal regulations that allow self-management and decentralization to dispose of chronic bureaucracy, which represents one of the most important education problems in our country. This should also guarantee flexibility, efficiency, effectiveness and ability to compete for education system.

Level three: Teaching Curriculum:

There is no doubt that education needs multiplied efforts for renewing teaching curriculum to be in conformity with society and labor market requirements. Perhaps we realize that it is the time to reformulate university or school book to achieve what is known as ،،teaching reference book,, and it is book in which student can delve into alone without much help from teacher, and without being in need for study sheets or summaries. (Our experience in Cairo University).

On the other hand, bold decisions should be taken to freeze teaching curricula that have no relation to reality or future, exclude the out of date specialties of well-rehearsed topics, and open, in return, specialties that are required by development process, bearing in mind art education; the spirit of labor and development should not make us forget ،،third dimension,, in human which is heart as it is fertile place for imagination and affection without which human will not be able to live for future. (Our experience in Cairo University in restoring art at the university campus).

Educational content promotion goes hand-in-hand with problem-solving creativity development, exceeding the limits of curriculum into the wideness of scientific research to study realistic issues. This is the most important tool in life to know, educate individual, and form democratic society, as John Dewey says in his book ،،Democracy and Education,, in which he consider education as a necessity of life.

This is inseparable from allowing a larger space for continuous and regular revision of educational content and the amount of scientific dozes that students receive. Additionally, it is important to re-develop assessment methods and exam questions to test skills, thinking methods, and outcome-based education output instead of focusing only on process-based education.

Moreover, multiple-choice questions are relied on to reduce human factor and achieve neutrality in assessment and correction. The importance of assessment methods is evident here as they depend on electronic methods in conducting and correcting exams so as to reduce teaching burden and largely achieve speed and justice. Objective evaluation is the fulcrum in moving towards a better future, without which there can never be any meaning for development. (Our experience at Cairo University).

Education content development will not achieve its purpose without raising the efficiency of teachers and staff members by organized, continuous training, and developing their skills in learning styles, teaching methods, and designing curricula.

Ladies and gentlemen…

Developing education and learning patterns and styles, raising the efficiency of academic management, and updating teaching curricula must really be met by a large effort to stir the will of progress in the minds of professors and students. It is a national, inclusive task that is linked to confirming the national targets of educational process. Education is not the end of the road, but it is just an essential step to be followed by stages of scientific and human struggle. It is sufficient for us, in this situation, to monitor, confirm and insist on this role, and it is sufficient for us to play it with all what we got of determination and tenacity.

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Working Paper, entitled ،،Higher Education Systems: Futuristic Vision,, , Presented by Prof. Dr. Gaber Nassar, Cairo University President - Cairo University