When the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University released its annual rankings of the world’s best 500 universities, the United States stands far and away as the best of the best, but smaller countries are making progress. Israel now counts three universities in the top 100 and six on the 500 list.
What stands out to me is the poor showing of Muslim-majority nations. Comprising almost a quarter of humanity and possessing enormous resources, they seem to be unconcerned about the value of scientific research and totally consumed by the struggle for power and religious wars and squabbles. Saudi Arabia has three universities on the list, but I doubt whether much is going on in them. I am sure they are well funded, but how could they promote innovation when freedom of expression and thought are vigorously censored in most of the Arab region?
I really went through a rite of passage yesterday and my mind was struggling in different directions wondering whether one day our Arab nation will have prestigious schools that can compete with American and European ones. This feeling has haunted for years until I visited L’École de Gouvernance et d’Économie EGE a prestigious school in Rabat.
As I walked through the stately halls of the school and sat in the impressive auditorium, I was told that school, founded in 2008 and currently situated in Rabat, is the first high quality operating school of governance and economy in the nation.
Such history has not been an impediment to change and progress, however: EGE is now the most diverse school Morocco, boasts students from Morocco and other nations, and is an echo chamber for a babel of languages. I visited the school classrooms where world political science is taught and learned that the school offers global studies and students intereact with top-notch academic speakers. Not only that, but the school has implemented a new curriculum, one that is centered on projects but still based on world market and international relations.
If that’s the case, I’d say, chapeau! I came away from that excited visit and wishing we could do more to shore up such projects. Education matters and as the founder of the school Faical Laraichi said when the school was inaugurated , “Education is one of the best investments around.¨
The Shanghai rankings are a good index of the ills besetting the Arab and Muslim worlds. And the West can’t be blamed for this. EGE represents a good modal for Arab institutions and a venue for potential young Arab leaders.
Well-endowed and supported by loyal alumni and dedicated trustees, EGE is a quintessential Moroccan story, one of self-reliance and vision, a blend of private interests and investment in the public good. There is no doubt that EGE’s will soon become an educational inspiration for other Arab schools. The founders of this top Moroccan school will take this gem of a place to new heights. Best wishes all and congrats to the founders.