MIT Technology Review Pakistan cites Aga Khan University as a model of globally competitive university with relevant research programs that are geared to directly benefit the local communities.
The MIT Technology Review Pakistan, complements the 1994 Report of the Chancellor’s Commission (The Future of the Aga Khan University – Evolution of a Vision) were similar findings were expounded on.
The MIT Technology Review Pakistan’s article “The Dark Age of Muslim World” has received extensive coverage by Pakistan’s media.
The Dark Age of the Muslim World
By Athar Osama and Nidhal Guessoum
A survey of Muslims’ institutes of higher learning finds them lagging behind the world when it comes to providing quality science and technology education.
… One approach being adopted by a number of Muslim countries is to bring, in fact almost transplant overnight, foreign universities and charge them to engage in cutting-edge research inspired by local problems. The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in United Arab Emirates, and several American University campuses in Education City in Doha are bold experiments to achieve just this with some success, though the jury is still out on whether this is sustainable in the long run. These are extremely expensive to operate and hence out of reach for a vast majority of the OIC member countries. More modest, but organically grown, approaches to creating globally competitive but locally relevant research programs can be seen at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) and the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Pakistan and Sharif University of Technology in Iran.
It is a well-known fact that 1.6 billion Muslims contribute a disproportionately smaller share to the world’s knowledge. This global community – forming the majority population of 57 countries and spanning virtually every single country of the world – has had only three Nobel laureates in science in the history of this prestigious prize. The number of universities from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries in the top 500 universities of the world is only a little better than that.
Clichés aside, there is a widely shared view that science in the Muslim world is significantly lagging behind the rest of the world. This view is partly based on indicators, such as global university rankings, research spending, researchers per million people, performance of pre-university students etc. The causes of this bad performance and potential remedies are hotly debated.
Universities are the bedrock of a knowledge society. In the developed world, these have evolved over hundreds of years into institutions that specialize in creating and disseminating knowledge. In the Muslim world, particularly the Arab world, universities are a relatively recent phenomenon: three quarters of all Arab universities were established in the last 25 years of the 20th century.
Universities of the Muslim world have not ranked highly in the various global university rankings. In the 2014-15 edition of the QS World University Rankings, no university of the Muslim world was in the top 100, and only 17 ranked among the top 400 (11 between 300 and 400). Similarly, the most recent the Times Higher Education World University Rankings had only 10 universities from the Muslim world in the top 400 (five of them between 300 and 400). This has often led to repeated calls to enhance rankings of universities in the Muslim world and to create ‘world-class’ universities. While there has been some advancement on the former, the latter has remained largely inaccessible.
- The universities located in the Muslim-majority areas of the world are not delivering quality science and technology education.
- These universities need to become meritocracies, transforming their culture and in turn influencing the students who can then affect the society at large.
- Policymakers, in a rush to do more, have put in place well-meaning incentives that are causing collateral damage. Quality and merit rather than quantity and meaningless targets should be the primary focus,
driving decision-making in these universities.
Read the complete report at the source via MIT Technology Review Pakistan | The Dark Age of Muslim World
About the Aga Khan University
The Aga Khan University is a unique hybrid: an institution of academic excellence that is also an agent for social development. The University prepares men and women to lead change in their societies and to thrive in the global economy.
Guided by the principles of impact, quality, relevance and access, the University has campuses and programmes in Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom. It operates teaching hospitals in Karachi and Nairobi, Schools of Nursing and Midwifery,Medical Colleges, Institutes for Educational Development, the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations , the Graduate School of Media and Communications, the East African Instituteand the Institute for the Study of Human Development.
Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali