Encourage Students to Think Critically: Nahyan

DUBAI - The first Rolex Middle East Forum held on Wednesday called for a new tradition in innovation and research in the Arab world and stressed the dire need to introduce a system wherein students would be encouraged to think critically.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Thu 20 Nov 2008, 11:17 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 7:22 PM

In his opening address, Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the UAE Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), said the UAE supported creativity and value innovation, both of which drove economic success and positive change.

Under the theme ‘Encouraging Innovation for the Next Generation’, the forum organised three discussion sessions: ‘The state of science and innovation in the Middle East and North Africa’; ‘Preserving the natural environment and cultural heritage’; and ‘The role of women as a force for social change’.

While discussing the state of science and innovation in the MENA region, Dr Tayeb A. Kamali, Vice-Chancellor, UAE HCT and group CEO of Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT) voiced concerns about a majority of the graduates in the UAE who weren’t aware of some of the current issues that concerned society.

“We should combine the textbook curriculum and introduce modern techniques in teaching. The UAE has one of the highest number of high school graduates in the region and there is no excuse if the younger generation is left in ignorance,” said Kamali.

Other speakers on the first panel were Dr Kathryn Sullivan, Vice-Chairperson of the US National Science Board; Prof Magdi Yacoub, renowned heart surgeon; Prof Denise Bradley AC, President of Australian Colleges of Educators; and Dr Lihadh Al-Gazali, Professor in Clinical Genetics and Pediatrics, UAE University.

A major issue raised at the panel discussion was the lack of facilities and infrastructure for PhD studies in the region. Dr Ghazali said, “Except for Cairo, there isn’t another place in the region where students can pursue their doctoral studies. Unless PhD studies are established in the region, research scope is limited. Besides that, students are not encouraged to think critically.”

“Students must be encouraged to think in an innovative manner to encourage research in the region,” said Prof Magdi Yacoub.


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