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The Education complex - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Despite being only halfway through the year, the wife of Sudanese President, Omar al Bashir, deserves the “woman of the year” award. The prize is not for any distinctive social or political actions the Sudanese First Lady might have undertaken. On the contrary, the award is in response to her prooving that the wife of a President can be normal, like the rest of us. By obtaining her high school diploma, with average grades, she has broken the rule whereby leader’s wives are always impeccably dressed and distinguished in every field, especially that of education. Our winning First Lady, on the other hand, could have easily obtained any exceptional educational qualification she desired, she could have even achieved top marks, with many universities eager to accept her and grant her a doctorate in the field she chooses.

But the First Lady, instead, chose the right path and opted to obtain her diploma independently, even if her grades were low. In doing so, she rid herself of the education complex so many suffer from and gained the greatest prize; the people’s praise and admiration.

What can drive a President’s wife returning to school to complete a humble degree, if not the urge to learn? We ought to respect the First Lady for her choice, especially her persistence and honesty in accepting the grades her work deserved. I do not know the Lady in person, but I am certain she stands out from the rest of the First Ladies who live surrounded by arrogance and pomp.

Of course there are other men and women in political office, with degrees and distinctive grades. Yet education should’ve never been corrupted as a vehicle for social bragging, as we see nowadays, with universities transformed into government salons and degrees hung on the walls, and forgotten.

When stories about lazy Arab students receiving counterfeit university degrees across the USA started to emerge, many were perplexed. Why would a student travel all that distance to receive a fake grade if he is perfectly able to obtain one in ethical circumstances, alongside a good education? Why would anyone forge a university degree?

It was difficult to explain to these confused individuals that the current administrative and social system value a university degree very highly, above its holder. In the public sector, the situation at present is such that the higher the degree, the higher the promotion and the financial allowance for its holder. This is irrespective of the personality of the person and his ability to carry out his work professionally. In the private sector, however, the degree is an identity card that doesn’t ensure a secure job or a monetary reward. In this case, if the holder is qualified, as the degree suggests, he might be rewarded with a successful career and a bright future. However, if he is educated but unproductive, his future will resemble that of an elementary school leaver.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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