Newsletter

Bulletin: Palestinian Scholar Said Alzebda Is Killed in Israeli War on Gaza

Al-Fanar Media Between Two Years

In our new bulletin, Al-Fanar Media brings you our most prominent stories and news about higher education in the Arab world.

2023 has passed and 2024 has begun, with all the challenges and legitimate dreams the new year brings.

One of the most prominent challenges is the amount of fake news circulating in cyberspace. This requires greater effort on the part of many constituencies, including professional news organisations and casual Internet users, especially young people, in checking and verifying information.

In 2023, Al-Fanar Media began a partnership with the Ford Foundation in a media literacy project for Arab university students. The project includes producing diverse content to enhance media and information literacy, such as podcasts. Our news bulletin contains examples of this content.

In 2024, we will continue to provide services in this regard, including a series of training workshops on media literacy for university students in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Jordan.

We are working hard to achieve more efforts and partnerships to support Al-Fanar Media’s efforts in empowering Arab youth. 

Mohammad El-Hawary
Al-Fanar Media editor-in-chief

From the Region:

Palestinian Academic Said Alzebda Is Killed in Israeli War on Gaza

Said Alzebda, president of the University College of Applied Sciences (UCAS), in Gaza, has joined the long list of Palestinian academics killed in Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip. Alzebda and a number of his family members were killed in an Israeli airstrike, Times of Gaza announced on X (formerly Twitter) on December 31.

The Palestine Academy for Science and Technology (PalAST) said in a statement on LinkedIn that Alzebda’s death marked the third killing of a university president by Israel within two months, PalAST said. His death followed those of Sofyan Taya, president of the Islamic University of Gaza, on December 2, and of Mohammad Shubair, a former president of the same university, on November 12. Many other Palestinian academics and researchers have also been killed among the more than 22,000 deaths reported in Gaza since the war began on October 7.

Other Palestinian educational institutions also mourned Alzebda’s death. In a statement on Facebook, Birzeit University, in the West Bank, noted that the Palestinan scholar held master’s and doctoral degrees in electronic communications and computer engineering from the University of Nottingham, in the United Kingdom. He had worked at the University College of Applied Sciences for over 18 years in a number of capacities, including as director of development programmes and head of the UCAS Technology Incubator.

Palestine’s Ministry of Higher Education also issued a statement mourning the late academic as a result of the ongoing aggression against Gaza.

38 Students and Teachers Win Prizes in Egypt’s National Reading Project

The National Reading Project in Egypt and North Africa recently announced the winners of its third competition during a celebration in Cairo. In all 38 contestants from 16 Egyptian governorates won prizes worth a total of 20 million Egyptian pounds.

According to a statement issued on Tuesday, 12 million students and teachers participated in the latest edition of the project, which targets all segments of society, including school students, Al-Azhar institutes, universities, teachers, and educational and community institutions. Winners were chosen in four categories: the “intellectual student”, among school students, the “diamond reader” among university students, the “intellectual teacher” among teachers, and the “enlightening institution” for educational, cultural, social and media institutions that support reading.

The National Reading Project is sponsored by several Egyptian ministries, the Egyptian Knowledge Bank, and Al-Azhar Foundation, and is affiliated with the Research Science Institute organisation, based in Dubai.

Bulletin: Palestinian Scholar Said Alzebda Is Killed in Israeli War on Gaza
The closing ceremony of the third running of the National Reading Project in Egypt and North Africa.

London Centre Hosts Training Course for Arabic Teachers 

The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), in partnership with the Islamic Cultural Centre of London and the International Curriculum Foundation, recently held a two-day training course in London for teachers of Arabic to non-native speakers.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, Saleh Al-Wahaibi, secretary-general of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, stressed the importance of the course in spreading the Arabic language and its culture among peoples. The course discussed the use of artificial intelligence (AI) applications in teaching, how to transform Arabic language training into a source of income, and communicative approaches to teaching Arabic, among other topics. Al-Wahaibi pointed to the great role played by Saudi Arabia in teaching and disseminating the Arabic language through its universities and specialised institutes, and through its support for institutes and centres concerned with teaching Arabic abroad.

Zayed U., Abu Dhabi Collaborate on Study of Emission Factors in Emirate

Zayed University and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi are collaborating on a study of greenhouse gas emission factors for the Emirate. According to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), the partnership is aligned with the Abu Dhabi Climate Change Strategy and is part of the Abu Dhabi Environmental Research Network (ADERN).

The research aims to identify emission factors for specific sectors in the Emirate and develop emission factors for sectors where no data currently exists. The research will review existing studies, reports, and databases on global and regional greenhouse gas emissions to gain a comprehensive understanding of emission factors relevant to the specifics of Abu Dhabi.

QatarDebate Holds Forum in Oman to Enrich Exchange between Youth

QatarDebate is holding its first “Oasis of Dialogue” in Oman this month. The forum, organized by QatarDebate and Oman Debate in partnership with the sultanate’s Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth, will run from January 5 to January 9, 2024, at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Center in Muscat. Some 50 young people from Gulf countries will discuss important issues of identity and tourism in the Gulf region today.

QatarDebate is affiliated with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and is the national debating organisation for Qatar. In a statement it said the Oasis of Dialogue forum aims to build bridges of communication between Qatari and Omani youth, to enrich the exchange of ideas and points of view, and to promote critical thinking and concepts of acceptance and respect for others.

From Al-Fanar Media

Al -Fanar Media’s New Year’s Harvest in Service of Arab Higher Education

Throughout 2023, Al-Fanar Media worked hard to complete efforts to make its content more diverse, including in-depth news stories, feature stories, interviews, op-eds, and special coverage of topics and events, including impacts on higher education, research, and culture in conflict zones. We also presented new podcast episodes, online panel discussions, and higher-education newsletters and news bulletins. We also provided professional, reliable content, adhering to independence and high standards of credibility, on topics of interest to Arab youth, including university students, those preparing to enter university, and fresh graduates. Read more the work we have started and our plans for the year ahead in this article

In Conflict: 

Libyan University Students Struggle to Catch Up after Teachers’ Strike Ends

The academic year at Libyan universities was scheduled to start on September 17, but was delayed for months by professors’ protests over pay and benefits. Professors agreed to resume classes in late November after their union reached an agreement with the interim Government of National Unity, based in Tripoli. For students, this means a struggle to catch up in their studies and to complete an entire academic year between now and mid-summer. They may get some relief from a plan the professors’ union and the government have been discussing to amend the academic calendar. Read more in this article

Media Literacy: 

Media Literacy in the Arab World: the ‘Media Literacy of the Oppressed’?

Twenty years ago, no Arab university offered a course in media literacy. Now at least 150 do. Jordan, the Arab world’s pioneering media-literacy country, teaches the subject from primary school onwards. But is the Arab approach to media literacy the same as the way this subject is taught in the West? Jad Melki, director of the Institute of Media Research and Training at the Lebanese American University, thinks it isn’t. Read more in this article

Podcast: 

‘Experiences in Teaching Media Literacy’: New Episode of Al-Fanar Media Podcast

A new episode of Al-Fanar Media Podcast focuses on experiences in teaching media literacy to university and pre-university students in the Arab world. In the new episode, Mohammad El-Hawary, Al-Fanar Media’s editor-in-chief, discusses Jordan’s experience in teaching media literacy and trying to provide Arab youth with skills they need to know about verifying information, in light of widespread bias and misinformation in media outlets.

The episode also presents academics explaining how to scrutinise information, and their opinions on the concept of media literacy in the West and in Arab societies. You can listen to this episode, and others in the series, on SoundCloud, Spotify, or YouTube.

Tips and Resources: 

Academic Advisers and Their Role at Arab Universities

From a student’s first days at university to their final exams, most Arab universities now provide academic advisers to smooth the path. Al-Fanar Media has been looking at the role of these advisers and what academic advising consists of. We gathered the thoughts of several academics and their institutions about the types of information and support academic advisers provide, including helping students identify educational and career goals in line with their personal abilities, values, and interests. Read more in this article

Al-Fanar Media Activities: 

How Can Arab Academics Support the Palestinian Cause? Professors Offer Ideas

In a new episode of Al-Fanar Media’s series of panel discussions, Arab academics talked about the roles university professors can play in supporting the Palestinian cause. The discussion took place on December 11, more than two months into the current war Israel launched on Gaza in October, in response to a deadly Hamas attack inside Israel. The participants’ suggestions included networking with other academics around the world who support the Palestinian cause, and teaching younger generations to take up the issue on knowledge-based grounds, using logical argumentation rather than an aggressive “us/them” posture. Read more in this article.

Opinion: 

How to Make Students Feel Cared for in Spaces Increasingly Filled with Technology

Technology increasingly mediates interactions between instructors and students, writes Jörg Matthias Determann, who teaches history at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. There are software systems for accessing class lists, posting syllabi, and gathering feedback, he says. Professors may even be tempted to use chatbots to help write emails or recommendation letters. On the whole, technology is fast, efficient and reliable. However, it also makes everyone in the classroom communicate more with machines than humans. And what professors gain in speed, they might lose in terms of personal style. Determann’s advice: preserve your authentic voice as much as possible. Read more in this in this essay.

Scholarships

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.

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