Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Our outdated Computer Science curriculums | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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I recently met with one of the brightest Computer Science students and asked him about the Arabic language course outlines he follows in his studies. His reaction was almost immediate, “What we study as computer science is seen in the Western world as That Ministries of Education across the region ought to focus on improving computer classes is essential. The ongoing revolution in information technology will not be kind to those it leaves behind. Computers enable the world to communicate. We, in the Arab World need to teach our students the latest on the subject matter and ensure teachers are training in the latest history!” Although joking, it is regrettable for an intelligent and dedicated student to be expressing such views.

These days, we live in a post-industrial world were “skilled labor” predominates. The terminology refers to professionals in the various sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, industry, trade, services etc. Research and economic studies all indicate an increasing demand for skilled labor, to the extent that UNESCO has stressed in seven conferences, across the world, the necessity of promoting up-to-date computer studies and using the latest technology in vocational training.

Computer technology courses in the Arab World are archaic

It isn’t rocket science to realize that the educational institutions responsible for training skilled laborers across the Arab World are woefully prepared for the challenges of modernity and the latest technological and scientific discoveries, especially with regard to computers.

Perhaps the clearest indicator of the state of the relationship between the Arab World and computer technology is its newness. In Saudi Arabia , for example, the subject was added to educational curricula fifteen years ago, gradually increasing to two hours per week in high school, out of a total of 35. In Kuwait , Egypt , and Oman , computer technology receives even less attention in schools because of the limited number of teachers the different programs.

Rami al Saadawi, a 17 year old student in the kingdom says “the course outline is rather strange; some lessons still discuss DOS programs (an old operating system) that are useless nowadays. We are taught even more outdated programs that have long been replaced! No one, not even a small independent grocer would use them.” He added, “Even we disregard the obsolete curricula, we are handicapped by the lack of practical training and useless theory overload.”

Nidal Hassan, a recent Computer Sciences graduate lent his support to this pessimistic view. He said, “Our courses are old and dull, despite the field being very dynamic and constantly being updated.” He blamed universities who only “care about the number of students enrolled in its programs, and not their quality.” This is the reason why, according to Hassan, most students are uninspired. He also decried how different “specialization do not match the demands of the job market”.

As an example, let us look at Hassan himself. He is a graduate specializing in manufacturing computer hard drives, despite the Arab World lacking any single factory that produces such material.

Developments. More hours need to be dedicated to computer studies and specialization should be strengthened.