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Higher Education in Egypt and Arabian Gulf countries: A Comparative perspective

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El-Sayed El-Aswad
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It is an interview with Prof. el-Sayed el-Aswad discussing obstacles of the cultural development in Arab countries.
El-Sayed El-Aswad
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I've just finalized a chapter entitled "Rethinking Knowledge and Power Hierarchy in the Muslim World" that will be published soon. I'll keep you posted.
 
El-Sayed El-Aswad
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B u l l e t i n 2 5 / A p p l i e d A n t h r o p o l o g y i n E g y p t 3 5 This chapter discusses the locally and globally oriented domains of applied anthropology in Egypt. It examines the micro and macro factors that have both positive and negative impact on the progress of applied anthropology in Egypt, including extensive bureaucracy, inadequate education, insufficient funding, global violence, terrorism, security, civil society, and NGOs. Despite the challenging conditions of academic and applied research in Egypt, applied anthro-pology, as locally practiced but globally oriented, has developed new trends concerning the key theme of the local/global and related topics of such as development, environment, poverty, education, migration, violence, tourism, and media. A case study will examine some of these issues. Key Words: Egypt, localism/globalism, policy, government, academic/applied The focal objective of this chapter is to address and assess the practice of applied anthro-pology in Egypt within a global context. This objective meets a need among scholars, students, and practitioners especially when one recognizes that there exists no study that exclusively discusses applied anthropology in Egypt or, more extensively, the Arab world. Factors that have weakened the practice of applied anthropology and hindered its progress in Egypt are also discussed. With the exception of the University of Alexandria, which established an independent department of anthropology in 1974, anthropology in Egyptian universities is primarily affiliated with departments of social sciences, especially sociology. There are 20 universities in Egypt (14 national or public and 6 private) that incorporate departments of sociology, in addition to the National Center for Social and Criminological Research, established in 1956. 1 These departments offer both undergrad and graduate students courses mostly in social or cultural anthropology within which applied anthropology is taught. Though the theoretical frameworks of functionalism and structuralism introduced by Radcliff-Brown, Evans-Pritchard, and pioneer Egyptian anthropologists in the 1940s have continued to influence anthropological teaching in Egypt, the practical dimension of anthropology has been emphasized not only to imple-ment modernization and development plans but also to help build an Egyptian nation liberated from British colonialism. 2 "Anthropology in Egypt today is dominated by efforts to come to grips with contemporary patterns of change, often under the heading NAPA Bulletin 25, pp. 35–51, ISBN 1-931303-28-2.
El-Sayed El-Aswad
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From my own experience, teaching Middle East courses in both US and ArabUniversities is a challenge that can be resolved through adequate usage of visual art.This workshop will demonstrate how experimental learning, specifically the use of ethnography and visual art, can be used effectively in teaching courses of folk heritage of the Middle East, including Gulf countries experiencing rapid changes in their traditional cultures.At the UAE University, the Folklore course describes practical usages of folklore in various domains including public festivals, tourism, recreation, folk literature, mass media, and sports (such as camel racing, falconry, horse racing, and sailing).Illustrations and demonstrations from the UAE and various Arab societies are provided. Students conduct ethnographic documentaries, participate in field-trip reports, write biographies of folk poets or local narrators and carry out presentations on specific themes such as marriage ceremonies, folk songs, folk music, storytelling, vernacular houses, handicrafts, local markets, costumes, folk poems and folktales. To solve the problem of translating folk literature (into English), students produce visual narratives. Samples of students’ ethnographic documentaries and visual narratives will be presented in the workshop.
El-Sayed El-Aswad
added a research item
Syrian immigrants are the oldest of the Arab American groups that migrated to the United States seeking economic opportunities and politi-cal freedom. The earliest wave of Syrian immi-grants arrived in the United States in 1880. As Albert Hourani explains, Syria was a name commonly used in the Western world to denote the area that is now included in the states of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, and it is not always easy to discover from the records of the emigra-tion whether those who referred to as "Syrian" were, to use modern terms, Syrians, Lebanese, or Palestinians. Elizabeth Boosahda and Jennifer Leila Holsinger state that before World War I, Arab Americans who emigrated from Syria were identified as Turkish, Syro-Arab, Arab, or Syrian. History Most early Syrian immigrants were Orthodox or Catholic Christians. However, there was also a smaller number of Muslim Syrian immigrants, predominantly Sunnis, in addition to Alawite and Druze minorities. Today, the distribution of Syr-ian Americans in the United States, according to the Census Bureau's 2009 American Community Survey, is as follows: northeast, 38 percent; mid-west, 19 percent; south, 25 percent; and west, 18 percent. Syrian Americans reside mainly in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Cal-ifornia, and Michigan. Between 1899 and 1907, some 41,404 Syrians were admitted to the United States. According to Alexa Naf, by 1910, the number reached 65,909. Syrian immigration to the United States was restricted by the U.S. Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924. However, the migration to the United States increased in the 1960s, after the Immigra-tion Act of 1965, as well as after Syrian–Israeli conflicts that ended with Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967. In the 2000 Census, the population of Syrian Americans was 76,000, constituting 8.9 percent of Arab Americans and ranking third in the Arab population, after Lebanese and Egyptian Ameri-cans. In 2009, the number of Syrians reached 159,000, maintaining its third rank with the overall Arab population. Syrian Americans, like the Lebanese, are characterized by low percent-ages of foreign-born immigrants, at 22 percent, whereas the percentage of Syrian Americans born in America is 60 percent. The early Syrian immigrants worked as ped-dlers and were quick to interact with Ameri-cans. Syrian Americans were good in trading and business but showed less interest in the domains of construction, farming, and transpor-tation. In 1999, the income of Syrian Americans was among the highest, with the median fam-ily income being $58,204, ranking second over-all among Arab Americans. Educated Syrian Americans work in management, such as in the auto industry, as well as in related professional domains including computer science, medicine, banking, and teaching. Such occupations consti-tuted 42 percent of the Syrian occupation distri-bution in 2000.
El-Sayed El-Aswad
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Based on the author's teaching and administrative experiences as well as previous ethnographic studies dealing with education in Arab and Arab Gulf regions this comparative inquiry focuses on three countries: Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates. This study presents a cross-cultural understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their educational systems and attempts to answer questions such as: How is university education perceived in these three countries? What are the main factors influencing their quality of education? Through these queries, the study seeks to highlight the changing faces of the educational systems. In addition to global and local or regional forces, this discussion tackles demographic, economic, socio-cultural and political factors affecting the educational systems. By focusing on higher, university-level education, this paper presents an initial effort in understanding the similarities and differences between the educational practices in middle and high-income countries. Issues discussed in this paper include centralized and decentralized education systems, public/government and private education systems, faculty-student ratios, the medium of instruction (Arabic/English language), homogeneity and diversity of student population, gender relations (with reference to students), and the stability or instability of political systems (with specific reference to the Arab Spring) affecting education.