Education is a unique topic about which everyone has an opinion, regardless of their profession or background. On one hand, it naturally draws interest as every single part of life is tied to it. On the other hand, amid such uproar, how is it possible to understand the difference between right and wrong?
A more appropriate question would be: Who should we listen to and why? As a researcher studying the intersection of applied linguistics and education, I feel that it is crucial rather than extraneous to offer my opinion on the topic.
By examining the major scientific journal list by Thomson Reuters, one can easily deduce that the top 25% of the journals – also called the "first quartile" – are heavily influenced by American and European institutions. It is rare to see journals from other parts of the world, the Middle East in particular. One might be surprised by my emphasis on the Middle East; however, I belong to this culture and am furious about this trend. Apparently, there is a problem here.
In order to solve a problem, the most important thing is to accept that there is a problem. This is also the basic tenet of research: First, you state a problem and then, utilize an appropriate method and get results. It is easy to say but once we come across the realities of life, stating the problem becomes a major task. I believe this is the first thing to do before looking for solutions. As I stated before, education has strong ties with every aspect of our lives, from politics to the economy. However, approaching this topic with half-blind eyes will produce half-blind results. Then, what is the problem?
When we are talking about the problem in education, we need to know that this is a multifaceted subject and trying to define each problem in this article is way beyond our limitations. However, it is necessary to point out essential issues to raise awareness based on a solid foundation. Before sprouting seeds, it is necessary to create a clean environment that can support a harvest in the future.
First, education in the Middle East lacks modernity. Bewildering intellectual richness has paralyzed all post-colonial countries. In order to catch up with developments in the West, the Middle East has sacrificed a lot of its culture, from the purification of languages to changing clothes. However, it seems these concessions have led to little progress. Changes in daily life were usually superficial and did not address the roots of the problems. It is unrealistic to expect things that work in the West to work the same in the East as well. There are significant differences among people, customs and world views. These differences require problem-solving based on a local perspective rather than a holistic approach. Although intellectual richness thrived in the East for hundreds of years, two consecutive world wars and imperialistic policies suppressed and discredited these nations. This led to a shift in perspective and intellectuals in the Middle East no longer harbored enthusiasm to pursue the glittering progress in the West. They buried their heads in the sand, isolated themselves from the rest of the world and created a radical conservatism never before witnessed in Islamic history.
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