World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


School and Education: Case Studies (419) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: FRI 23, 9-11 am

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Chair: Laura Mijares (Professor, Departamento Estudios Árabes e Islámicos, UCM)

Paper discussant: Karim El Chazli (Teaching assistant, Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris)

Paper presenter: Sarah Hartmann (PhD student, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany), "Between State, Market, and Civil Society: The Informal Education Sector in Egypt".
The majority of Egyptian high school students and even large numbers of elementary and preparatory school students attend supplementary tutoring classes in the afternoons and evenings in addition to formal schooling. Rather than a remedial measure for weak students, private and group tutoring has become a ‘normal’ and seemingly indispensable part of the education process in contemporary Egypt and is prevalent across all social classes. The variety of offers on this ‘informal education market’ ranges from expensive one-on-one private lessons at home to group and mass tutoring in special ‘tutoring centers’. Many of these centers, which have sprung up all over Cairo during the last decades, especially in lower and middle income neighborhoods, are associated to mosques and religious charity organizations. On the basis of ethnographic field research carried out in Cairo in 2009 and 2010, this paper will focus on the case study of such a tutoring center, located in a densely populated lower income neighborhood of the city. It will analyze how the spheres of the state, the market, and civil society intersect and interact in this particular social setting. Why is tutoring offered, by and for whom? What is the relationship between economic interests on one hand, and religious, political or other ideological motives on the other hand? How do teachers negotiate the ambiguities and possible conflicts inherent in their ‘double role’ as state (or private sector) employees and private tutors and what is the impact on their professional identity and status? Could we say that the informalization, privatization and commodification of education is the symptom of a larger process of social and political change? Is it the result of a growing ‘neo-liberal mentality’ in Egyptian society, emphasizing values like individual responsibility, competitiveness and entrepreneurship rather than equality and solidarity? These questions will be discussed on the basis of interviews with teachers, students, parents and the staff of the tutoring center, as well as long-term participant observation at the center.

Paper presenter: Annemarie Profanter (Assistant Professor, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy), “The Balancing Act: STEM and women in the Arabian Gulf”
This paper examines the ideological foundations of the mainstream national educational curricula focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the Arabian Gulf. It explores this topic as it relates to gender challenges both societal and structurally. The dearth of qualified women Phds’ in these fields has created a vacuum that requires an intense push to both educate interested scholars and build frameworks for the dissemination of these studies. Historically these academic fields were closed to women; however, due to economic and political pressure the need for Arabian female specialists in these areas continues to rise. To what extent has the educational system been shaped by economic, political and religious imperatives? This analysis takes place within a framework that considers and interrogates the ways in which Arabian women have continued to function as markers of both oppression and opportunity within the feminist discourse. This paper provides an overview into the separate higher educational facilities for women and men in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the socio-economic frameworks within which female academics have to function in the Sultanate of Oman. Empirical data were gathered in Oman and Saudi Arabia for a period of 8 years with extended periods of field visits involved. The paper attempts to relate conceptual and theoretical challenges presented by the opportunities inherent in the need for STEM educators and practitioners in the area and its reflection on gender construction. The gap between historic representations of appropriate Islamic female identity and career and the contemporary avenues currently open for women necessitate a synthesis and realignment of both social and political rhetoric.

Paper presenter: Dr. Haris Mubeen (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Arabic, Oriental College, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan), “A Comparative Study of Students' Belief about Arabic Language Learning in Pakistani Madrassas and Universities”
This study will be the first research attempt to know the students’ belief about Arabic language learning in Pakistani Madrsaas (Islamic Schools) and public sector Universities. This study will examine the diversity of beliefs between Madrassa and university students about learning Arabic language. Students of M.A. Arabic from the departments of Arabic language and literature of several Pakistani universities have participated in this study. Beside this, students of Sunni (Daubandi & Barelvi) madrassas and Ahlul Hadith madrassas have also participated in this study. Most of the items have been taken from ‘The Beliefs about Language Learning Inventory’ (BALLI) with some changes and from other available sources also. Few items were developed by the researcher himself in religious and Pakistani context. All data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 15.0.

Paper presenter: Dr. Amaal Hassan Mohammed Ebrahim (Professor, College of Physical Therapy, Cairo University, Egypt), “Female Higher education in selected Arab States: Challenges and Achievements”
The true wealth of any nation is its people and their ability to manage the country’s existing resources and to identify and develop new ones which determines the prosperity of the economy and the health of society for present and future generations. To educate a man the result is educated man but to educate a woman is to educate the whole society. This article seeks to explore the changes of the Arab female’s higher education, challenges and achievements in last ten years as a part of strategies to improve female well-being and societies’ economic and ability to provide the requirements of social development. Females in Arab states today are intensively pursuing higher education and professional careers as faculty members. Since ten years there was a shortage of public and private universities for women, and this caused a large number of young single women to stay at home, particularly as work opportunities remain limited. Higher education of Arab female in the last ten years faces great challenges due to the revolution of knowledge, development of the e-learning, distance learning and the need of higher standard of alumni to meet the work competitions and needs. This paper concluded the reports of the gender parity index (GPI) of female Higher education to male and the achievements and challenges facing them in selected Arab states.