ABU DHABI—Education is the only way to win the war against Islamic extremism and elevate the opportunities facing youth in the Arab world, says Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, a veteran educator, member of the governing council of Abu Dhabi and chairman of a think tank on countering extremism, Hedaya.
Known as an education pioneer for over two decades and a champion of global peaceful co-existence, Al Nuaimi is a renowned figure in the United Arab Emirates. Formerly head of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge and chancellor of the United Arab Emirates University, his mission now is revolutionizing education in the Arab world.
“Our societies will not develop unless educators realize that education is a future-oriented process, not just a way to re-create history and squeeze ourselves into past glories that we can no longer replicate,” he says.
Education systems must therefore break away from old methodologies like rote learning and memorization, which do not encourage the independent thinking needed in a new era, he adds.
Higher-education institutions and other modern educational facilities must adopt more contemporary teaching methods, Al Nuaimi says, offering resources and training aids not only to students but to teachers too, in addition to better testing and evaluation tools.
“This requires an education revolution in the Arab and Islamic world; a reform movement that restores the prestige, stature and attractiveness of education in society and places the teacher within the upper echelons of the social elite,” said Al Nuaimi, who is also a former secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Elders and current chairman of the World Council of Muslim Communities.
‘The Paramount Fortress’
At the heart of all he does is a mission of co-existence, a key concept in his promotion of inter-faith dialogue in the Emirates and globally.
In a region still blighted by extremist thought, Al Nuaimi believes education is the frontline of defense against any threat. He calls it “the paramount fortress.” Only through allocating better funding, and utilizing the expertise of Islamic scholars, educators, sociologists and psychologists, can this be done well, he argues.