A Fertile Land
In our new bulletin, Al-Fanar Media brings you our most prominent stories and news on higher education in the Arab world.
Over the past days, I participated in training and educational activities with several Egyptian university students. We will publish the details later on.
Based on the students’ active interaction, it was clear that young people were open to learning new tools and skills that would support their educational, professional, and even life paths.
Our youth strive for an opportunity, in a world full of opportunities. Some have the skills and tools to get the opportunities right for them, but most of them do not know where to start. So, it is necessary to integrate the roles of Arab universities and various institutions.
Al-Fanar Media plays a big role in bridging the gaps between all parties, based on social responsibility and a basic message.
Our youth are a fertile land that needs a helping hand, support and empowerment. We need to meet them from the beginning and take them by the hand into the future.
Al-Fanar Media editor-in-chief
From the Region:
Images of Bombed Universities in Gaza Highlight Impact of Israeli War
On January 24, as the world commemorated the International Day of Education, Birzeit University published images on Facebook showing the impact of the Israeli war in Gaza’s impact on academic institutions in the besieged territory.
The images show Palestinian universities that have been destroyed or left in ruins. They include Al-Israa University, located south of Gaza City, which the Israeli occupation army blew up in a controlled explosion on Wednesday, January 17. Other images showed destruction at Al-Quds Open University, Al-Azhar University–Gaza and Al-Azhar University–Al-Mughraqa, and the Islamic University of Gaza.
Save the Children, an independent humanitarian organisation, said that about 75 percent of Gaza’s schools, colleges, and universities have been damaged or destroyed since the start of the Israeli aggression on October 7. In a statement published on the International Day of Education, it added that even worse than the damage to infrastructure was the harm being done to children’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
U. of Sharjah Exhibition Brings Together People of Determination and Employers
Hamid Majoul Al Nuaimi, chancellor of the University of Sharjah, recently opened the University of Sharjah Exhibition for Employing People of Determination. (The United Arab Emirates refers to people with disabilities as “people of determination” in recognition of their achievements in various fields.)
According to the Emirati News Agency (WAM), the exhibition provided opportunities for students and graduates with special needs to learn about job opportunities in local institutions and companies, and to facilitate communications between the students and potential employers. More than 26 representatives of governmental offices, private institutions and companies in the Emirates participated in the exhibition.
The exhibition was organised by the university’s Disability Resource Center, whose services include helping people of determination improve the skills and knowledge they acquire during their studies and ensuring that they are provided with the best opportunities in the labour market.
Prospective Students at Georgetown-Qatar Experience ‘A Day in the Life’
On Wednesday, prospective undergraduate students got a first-hand campus encounter during “A Day in the Life of a Georgetown Student”, hosted by Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q).
In a statement, the university said the event aimed to introduce students, their families, and education professionals to various academic opportunities across the Qatar branch’s four main disciplines: culture and politics, international politics, international economics, and international history. Participants could connect with university faculty, staff, and students for guidance and insights on preparing their applications, ahead of the February 1 admissions deadline. The event gave prospective students a glimpse of college life and the vibrant, multicultural campus experience outside the classroom.
Saudi Arabia Hosts Camp for Generative Artificial Intelligence
Saudi Arabia’s Princess Nourah bint AbdulRahman University launched a Generative Artificial Intelligence Camp this week called “AI-Supported Education,” with leaders in the field of teaching and learning participating.
According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the three-day camp aimed to enhance the importance of employing generative artificial intelligence in in teaching and learning and introduce some of its applications in the field. The camp’s agenda included a training session called “Education Transformation”, to review the impact of AI in education, and another called “Adopting Generative Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education”, to discuss opportunities, challenges, and practical applications.
Yemen Starts Paying Tuition Fees for Students on Scholarships Abroad
Mazen Al-Jafri, undersecretary for the scholarships sector in Yemen’s Ministry of Higher Education, announced the start of transferring tuition fee payments for students on scholarships abroad, for the academic year 2022–2023.
According to a statement from the ministry, Al-Jafri confirmed the start of the transfer of dues from the Central Bank of Yemen, in the temporary capital of Aden, to all cultural attachés and Yemeni embassies abroad to be disbursed to students in the coming days. He said that the scholarships sector has also finished preparing the first quarter of 2023, with the aim of reducing the time period between the due date of paying fees for that period and the expected date of their delivery to the beneficiaries of the scholarships.
From Al-Fanar Media:
“Learning for Lasting Peace” was a theme of Unesco activities to mark the International Day of Education this year, but slogans won’t save Palestine’s right to education from the brutal reality it faces, says Mahmoud Abu Mwais, Palestine’s minister of higher education. “We are most in need of a critical review of the entirety of beautiful slogans and narratives,” Abu Mwais said in an interview with Al-Fanar Media. “On the ground, the situation unveils shameful practices towards Palestine’s education sector, specifically in the Gaza Strip, where universities are bombed and academics are being targeted.” Read more in this article.
Studies have shown that students who participate in extracurricular activities tend to fare better in university and gain skills that enhance their lives and careers after graduation. Zayed University, in the United Arab Emirates, is an example of institutions that promote specific activities to help students become well-rounded individuals. Through its Caring Campaign, the Student Life Team at Zayed University designs events through which students experience the value of caring in multiple ways, including self-care, community care, and care for the planet. Read more about Zayed University’s campaign and what other universities are doing in this article.
Al-Fanar Media Panel Discussions:
Al-Fanar Media will hold an online panel discussion on the topic “Arab Brain Drain: A Crisis from Within.” The session, set for Monday, January 29, will address the efforts of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO) to counter the effects of Arab brain drain by establishing the “ALECSO Network for Arab Migrant Minds in the Fields of Food Security, Water, Environment and Health”. The session will also discuss ways to encourage south-to-south migration, the expertise the Arab world is losing due to brain drain, ways to create a supportive environment for Arab researchers and scientists, and what Arab universities can do to stop brain drain. Read more in this article.
Critical thinking skills help humans communicate, and achieve flexible, collective, and effective social cooperation, and collaboration with humans and machines. It seems that the dialogue on posthumanism can be reformulated after considering the PACIER model for measuring, cultivating, and developing critical thinking skills, in terms of the inherent potential, and moving within its framework to enable humans to harness artificial intelligence, and move to augmented intelligence so that a human victory over the machine becomes a reality. Read more in this essay by Salah Khalil, chief executive of Macat International and a founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Alexandria Trust. Al-Fanar Media is one of the projects of the Alexandria Trust.
In a recent episode, Al-Fanar Media Podcast explored the AI-powered tools called chatbot tutors, one of the notable new applications of artificial intelligence in educational technology. You can listen to the episode and previous ones through Al-Fanar Media’s accounts on SoundCloud, Spotify, and YouTube. In this episode, presented by Mohammad El-Hawary, Al-Fanar Media’s editor-in-chief, we offer information about how students and teachers alike can interact with chatbot tutors to get personalised answers to questions, explanations, or assistance with administrative tasks.
Al-Fanar Media maintains a database of quality scholarships available to Arab students, which we continuously update. To stay up to date on the latest scholarships available in international universities, check the Scholarships section here, and watch for updated feedback on free learning opportunities in our News and Reports section, here.