World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


UN Arab development closing the ‘knowledge gap’

UN Arab development report focuses on closing growing ‘knowledge gap’

Arabs, coming from a knowledge-rich past, must urgently close a “growing knowledge gap” in the present by investing heavily in high-quality, analytical education, promoting open intellectual enquiry and developing an authentic Arab knowledge model, a new United Nations report says.

The report is the second Arab Human Development Report (AHDR 2003), launched in Amman today, at the invitation of the Jordanian Government.

It has been prepared by 40 distinguished Arab scholars, along with 30 advisers and peer reviewers, and co-sponsored by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.

The report proposes building a new knowledge society on “five pillars.”

“A climate of freedom is an essential prerequisite of the knowledge society,” it says. “It is also imperative to end the era of administrative control and the grip of security agencies over the production and dissemination of knowledge and the various forms of creative activity that are foundations for the knowledge society in Arab countries.”

Basic education should become universal and last 10 years in an educational system that should be radically improved, the report says of the second pillar. An independent Arab organization should be established for the accreditation of all higher education programmes.

Appropriate institutions, with appropriate funding, are needed to encourage basic research that will meet regional demand, especially in science and technology, which is the third pillar. “A starting point for this is to overcome the illusion that importing technology, as embodied in products, machinery and services, is equivalent to acquiring knowledge.”

The report recommends “shifting rapidly towards knowledge-based and value-added production,” thereby diversifying economic structures and markets, as the fourth pillar.

Creating the Arab knowledge model, the fifth pillar, will involve “delivering pure religion from political exploitation and respecting independent scholarship,” undertaking serious linguistic research into and reform of the Arabic language and “promoting cultural diversity in the region and opening up to other cultures abroad.”

The report estimates that there were 371 research scientists and engineers per million citizens in Arab countries, compared to a global rate of 979 per million. Only 1.6 per cent of the Arab population has Internet access, compared to 68 per cent in Britain and 79 per cent in the United States, it says.

It also notes rising anxieties about cultural dissolution in an emerging global culture, but says, “The Arab-Islamic culture at its zenith was a role model for borrowing and assimilation, followed by generous giving when it established its distinguished knowledge edifice.”

Recent advances, such as more women elected to political office and the expansion of satellite news broadcasting, have been partly eclipsed by tightened security in several countries following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

“These measures and policies exceeded their original goals and led to the erosion of civil and political liberties in many countries in the world, notably the United States, often diminishing the welfare of Arabs and Muslims living, studying, or travelling abroad, interrupting cultural exchanges between the Arab world and the West and cutting off knowledge acquisition opportunities for young Arabs,” the report says.

“The intensity of Arab opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq and to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza have heightened political tensions within Arab states and have become in themselves obstacles to open interchange with the United States and its allies,” it adds.

The Arab Charter against Terrorism was another negative. “It allows censorship, restricts access to the Internet and restricts printing and publication” and does not prohibit detention and torture, the report says.

In accompanying opinion polls, interviewees in the Arab world are the strongest supporters of democracy and the most determined opponents of authoritarian governments in the world. Their answers are compared with polls taken in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, other Islamic countries, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, North America – together with Australia and New Zealand, South Asia and East Asia.

The polls also show support for overall male-female equality in education, but not in the workplace.

“In human development terms, Arabs expressed support for building the human capabilities of women, but not for their utilization,” the authors say.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Myanmar Election: UNICEF Urges Prioritisation Of Children

With 99 days to go before Myanmar elections, UNICEF urges candidates make children the clear winner More>>

Liberia Thousands Of Unregistered Children Born During Ebola Crisis

Thousands of unregistered children born in Liberia during Ebola crisis at risk of exploitation – UNICEF More>>

UN Refugee Agency Envoy Angelina Jolie Visits Myanmar

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt (left) in Myitkyina township, Kachin State, Myanmar, meeting with some of the 100,000 displaced people who currently live there. Photo: UNHCR/T.Stoddart More>>

As Health Needs Rise In Somalia, Funding Hits New Low

As health needs rise in Somalia, funding hits new low, cutting off 1.5 million from care – UN More>>

Need To End Violence Against Children In Conflict

‘We should be outraged’ more not being done to end violence against children in conflict – UNICEF chief More>>

On Mandela Day, UN Joins Call To Promote Community Service

Nelson Mandela, then Deputy President of the African National Congress of South Africa, raises his fist in the air while addressing the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall. UN Photo/P. Sudhakaran More>>

Some $3.2 Billion Needed For Ebola Recovery Efforts

Some $3.2 billion needed for Ebola recovery efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – UN More>>

World Day: UN Spotlights Plight Of Vulnerable Populalations

Syrian refugees fleeing the fighting near the Syrian city of Kobani wait in a holding area before boarding buses in Turkey (September 2014). Photo: UNHCR /I. Prickett More>>

Afghanisatan: Direct Talks Between Government And Taliban

The United Nations Security Council has welcomed the recently held direct talks between Afghan Government and Taliban representatives as a step towards “peace and reconciliation” in the region. More>>

Eradicating World Hunger By 2030

Agriculture workers collect carrots on a farm in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Photo: World Bank/Maria Fleischmann More>>

Bangladesh: Flood Leads To UN Agency Providing Food Relief

Anwar Hossain unloads cartons of High Energy Biscuits from a pickup truck and transfers them to a distribution center in Kawar Khop union, Ramu upazila, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: WFP/Kamrul Mithon More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news