MENAFN - Arab News
Educationist: Saudi Arabia undergoing educational transformation
(MENAFN - Arab News) Dr. Syed Waseem Akhtar, an Indian educationist, recently visited the Kingdom at the invitation of Almaarefa College of Science and Technology, Riyadh, in an effort to help "build the future" in education for expatriates.
Dr. Mohammed Khurshid Akhtar, chairman of International Indian School (IISJ)-Managing Committee, in Jeddah, had Akhtar as his guest in part to bring Akhtar's "educational sanctuary" methods of teaching to Saudi Arabia.
Akhtar, in 20 years, created an "educational sanctuary" for Muslim minorities in north India. He turned dream into reality by establishing a technical university, which remained a distant dream until a few years ago. He said he aims to go global to provide educational facilities for the expat students for higher studies.
Of very quiet nature, Prof. Akhtar, the vice chancellor of the Integral University, nonetheless was exuberant when asked to spell out his mission in an interview with Arab News.
"I want to build a future," said Akhtar, who himself had to drop his ambition of getting technical studies due to financial compulsions.
Yet "I decided to provide to my community what I myself could not attain: A dream to bring technical education to every household of the Muslim community." Because, a civilized society is one that is built upon the foundations of scientific thinking and social welfare, he said.
Akhtar, who encourages others to remain focused on one's objective, set about a well defined task.
"I took the blessings of (late) Syed Maulana Abul Hassan Ali Nadvi (Ali Miyan), whom I was much inspired by to take up educational activities in the area of technology, and began my work."
What he started in 1983 was a humble Techno-Academic School in an underdeveloped locality at Lucknow - the capital city of the largest Indian province, the Uttar Pradesh - which grew gradually to become a full-fledged university where about 10,000 students study today. It has 12 faculties, 40 departments and more than 60 courses including engineering, biotechnology, medicine, paramedical and so on.
Approved by the University Grants Commission, his university today boasts of famed visitors like the Imam-e-Haram of Kaaba, Sheikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Ghamdi, former Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, and Vice President of India Hamid Ansari, among others.
A full-fledged medical college named as Integral Institute Medical Sciences and research is also in the making. His is the only technical university for minorities with best infrastructure than that of other varsities.
Akhtar visited Saudi Arabia's Almaarefa College of Science and Technology, Riyadh on an invitation for faculty of exchange programs.
He said he was aware of expat students in the Kingdom and elsewhere where they are facing serious problems of pursuing higher education because it is difficult for them to get admission for technical degrees such as engineering and medical in universities there. Admissions to such universities is expensive, and puts a burden on parents.
The Integral University vice chancellor said the Saudi government should allow some foreign universities to open their branches to allow at least the expat female students to complete their technical degrees in Saudi Arabia.
"I will soon try to meet the concerned authorities for this issue, which will benefit both the Kingdom students as well as the expat students," he said.
He added, "The Kingdom is not what it was some 20-25 years ago. It has undergone immense transformation particularly in the field of education. You can say it's sort of educational revolution. I say this because the country over a very short span has come up with a world class educational infrastructure as also with some 30 universities. They are really opening up and has much more flexibility in their approach to education. KAUST and an all-woman university are but few examples."
This is one reason why he hopes that the Kingdom will "surely pay heed to the requirement of the expat students.
Akhtar has authorized IISJ managing committee chairman, Dr. Khursheed Akhtar, to facilitate ground before they could have any fruitful meetings.
"We are interested to open an off-shore campus in Saudi Arabia to provide the best possible facilities for higher studies in the field of engineering, medical, pharmacy, architecture, biotechnology, medical and para-medical education.
We are also interested to provide best possible facilities to NRI students at our university for promoting higher education among the students of Saudi Arabia, who want to get education in our university. Scholarship facilities for these students will also be provided," Akhtar said.
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