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Editorial: Let knowledge grow
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 21 - 09 - 2006


By Seheir Kansouh-Habib
Beyond aims to offer the views of professional experts on special topics of critical importance to Egypt. Our last issue discussed the Desert Development Corridor proposal by Dr Farouk El-Baz to relieve population pressure in the Nile Valley and Delta. The debate is ongoing, but we hope that our presentations served as an eye-opener to policy-makers and the Egyptian public at large whose very life will be affected by the consequences of whatever decision policy-makers will take, to implement it -- or to shelve it, as has happened for the past 20 years since it was originally proposed.
This time, our focus is on education. Our concern is knowledge and how important it is for younger generations to acquire a proper education in order to lead a better life, enjoy better health, and ensure better productivity and income.
Our concern is also to close the enormous divide that is not only a legacy of the past, but that risks to grow larger as a result of new short-sighted policies. In this respect, we invite you to sample the views of our great educational guru, Professor Hamed Ammar, who has drawn for Beyond a brilliant panorama of Egypt's education system and its failings.
While Dr Ammar raises concerns about the intra- country educational divide, Beyond was honoured to obtain through our International Editor, Hedayat Abdel Nabi, the views of His Excellency President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal on the global divide.
The Senegalese President warns against the problems of the global digital divide that may totally exclude people of the South from progress if the South fails to catch up with rapid technological advances. His Excellency also briefs us on the Solidarity Fund he has initiated to close this divide, not only to serve Senegal -- but the whole of Africa.
Egypt's story with computerisation started in the 1960s, explains Dr Hisham El Sherif. However, did his dream to accelerate development through information technology introduced in the 1980s come true?
Our Guest Editor, Dr Nader Fergany, is also sharing with Beyond the outcome of his thorough inquiry on knowledge first presented in the prestigious UNDP series of Arab Human Development Reports. We hope that this will be a timely refresher for the Arab Summit due to meet shortly, bearing in mind that education will be central on the meeting's agenda.
To be part of the new knowledge-based economy of the 21st century ambitious but necessary institutional reform in education is required in Egypt. Dr Ismail Serageldin gladly shares with Beyond his vision of how this can materialise.
Other distinguished scholars, eminent practitioners and youth have also provided valuable contributions to this issue. May they all enrich the ongoing debate for the future of Egypt.


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