25 2 / 2014
I was sitting in my History of the Arab World class today for the last time and my professor was talking about what is wrong in the Arab World. The Arab World was at one time the height of civilization. I’ve talked about this in my 20th century Middle East and North Africa class as well.
One of the major things that many historians and development people have pointed to in the Arab World as the source of decline or failure is not the legacy of colonialism (although I personally think that still plays an important role) but the failure of those states to embrace and invest in education. Education seems to be one of the most important factors in terms of determining a states success. If you look at the worlds top universities, a majority are in the United States, then the UK, Japan, Germany, France, Switzerland, South Korea, and other states that have solid diversified economies.
The Arab World has fallen behind education wise, they have made significant increases but they still have among the worlds worst literacy rates. This is especially they case for women. Female illiteracy is a serious issue for the Arab World and this is made worse by the fact that women are expected to raise the children. So children are being raised by illiterate mothers who can’t help them with school or teach them to read or write themselves.
Investing in education means investing in a skilled workforce and investing in research. The kind of research that the US does at its universities has allowed it to become a leader in new technology, ideas, and things that really make a country strong.
But I think the whole discussion has implications for the United States as well. For as long as empires and super powers have existed, someone has been bemoaning the moral and social decline of those empires. We as humans idealize the past and see the decline of society. We are doing it now in both the Arab World and the United States and I think the answers to both can be compared.
In the United States, the government is spending more and more money on the military and overseas wars and has been slowly cutting the budget for education. Clearly education is one of the major things that has continued to make America a major world power. The Arab World clearly needs to invest in education, increasing their economic diversity, and their technology and industrial sectors. But so does the US. If we fail to continue investing in education we could see some more serious issues.
21 5 / 2013
Well I am finally home, sad to say bye to Morocco but also glad to be home and done with the semester.
16 5 / 2013
Just one day left and then a day of packing. Then I leave Morocco.
10 5 / 2013
Well thats it. I’m done with classes at AUI for the semester. Just have to survive finals and i’ll be done with study abroad.
09 5 / 2013
You know sometimes I feel really inadequate in college, surrounded by really smart awesome people. But then sometimes it just takes a little comment to realize you don’t suck as much as you think you do.
My history professor followed me out after my final exam to tell me that he hadn’t had a chance to tell me that he thought I did a really god job on one of our assignments earlier in the semester. Its kind of the best when a professor is impressed. It was really pretty nice of him.
08 5 / 2013
Still not sure why my Professor for my North Africa and the Middle East in the Twentieth Century thought it would be fun to lecture in Arabic…
Yes most of the international students have been taking some Arabic, but that does not mean I will understand a lecture about the Arab Spring. I understood a bunch of words but as a whole I had no idea what he was talking about and there are some students who haven’t taken any Arabic.
06 5 / 2013
After spending several months abroad I think the greatest educational failure of the United States is the lack of language skills. Most schools don’t start teaching languages until high school, maybe middle school, unless you are fortunate enough to go to a good private school or some international charter school.
Languages should be taught early, like elementary school early. Most of the rest of the world teaches their kids at least one other language from an early age so that they actually have a chance to become fluent.
Morocco makes me feel particularly stupid as most Al Akhawayn students know at least 3 or 4. They know English, French, Darija (the local Arabic dialect), and Fusha (standard Arabic).
I really think languages are important and only being fluent in one puts US students at a serious disadvantage to the rest of the world, particularly Europe. And, the outright rejection of other languages because “speak American!” is hindering our understanding of the rest of the world. It is one of my biggest issues looking back on my own education.
06 5 / 2013
I think part of the problem with the direct exchange between Beloit and Al Akhawayn is that they type of people who would choose Beloit for college, mostly would not fit in or likely enjoy Al Akhawayn.
06 5 / 2013
I have slightly mixed feelings about leaving. On one hand I am really ready to leave and I just want to go home but I know once I leave I’ll miss it.
But I am very done with school and most of my classes are a waste of time for this last week. I just listened to my Model UN teacher go on again about how Turkey should invade Syria. He was just basically ranting about how he supports a US intervention but that Turkey should pay for opposing the Iraq intervention and needs to take responsibility by sending their own troops into Syria. Honestly I don’t even know how to respond to that. He was very insistent and slightly emotional about it. I’m just so done.
03 5 / 2013
Well I was supposed to go to Rabat today but the buses filled up…. I both love and hate public transportation here. Its mostly pretty easy and convenient until it isn’t.