Qatar’s UNESCO Candidate Emphasizes Higher Education’s Role in Building Critical Thinking

Rome, – HE Advisor at the Emiri Diwan and the State of Qatar’s candidate to the Post of the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari stressed that diverse higher education contributes greatly to developing a mind that employs critical thinking and allows graduates to personally be able to distinguish between that which is resolutely good and that which is inherently bad, and encourages people not to become victims of “thinking by proxy”, which embodies the current mindset among ignorant, violent extremists.

Addressing the “Mediterranean Universities Union” in the campus of the University of La Sapienza in Rome on the occasion of marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Union, HE Al Kuwari called on teachers and academics to establish proper educational policies and enhance moral education in order to prevent the rise of extremism, noting that a number of extremist leaders in the world were once students in the most important and largest universities in vital areas of the globe where the absence of fostering true values of human kindness has led to the predomination of technicality over innate values, and indoctrination over critical thought processes.

This system-wide neglect calls for a reform in overall curriculum through modernization, with a greater focus on the common values of tolerance, rejection of intolerance and furthering respecting of others, he went on saying.

UNESCO is inevitably facing a great variety of global challenges that reflect the strong need for new ideas from an aspiring new generation that will be able to step up to the challenges that lay before us, he explained.

The ignorant hands that have destroyed edifices of humanities heritage in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Timbuktu are the result of an educational system that has failed to produce enlightened minds and knowledgeable citizens; instead it has, unfortunately, “dropped the ball” in this regard and has produced a number of destructive and extremist minds and thoughts, Dr. Al Kuwari said.

“It is the resolute right of every academic to be closer today, more than ever before, to the UNESCO, to express their concerns that count for all of humanity and provide alternative solutions to the plethora of problems the world is currently dealing with, and there is no one better suited than the people I see before me to evaluate the on-going seriousness of this phase and no one better than them to formulate new ideas and projects, within the university environment which is, in its own right, a real laboratory of ideas, a home for growth of human consciousness and a wellspring of new creativity and future innovation,” he explained.

Dr. Al Kuwari expressed admiration towards Mediterranean Universities Union’s regional initiative that studies the specific needs of university graduates and seeks to meet their aspirations in accordance with the requirements of the timeframe we live in and the variety of trends of the current global labor market, praising the conference it organized related to employing university graduates in the creative industries sector.

In this regard, HE Al Kuwari noted that he dedicated an entire chapter in his book “Global Majlis” towards the same issues, and he oversaw several international conferences to further draw attention to this globally important cause when he was president of the Organization of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

No one disagrees that UNESCO is facing a serious financial crisis that requires creative proposals in order to deal with it, HE Al Kuwari said, stressing that the support of many Gulf, Arab, European and Asian countries and others they have provided for the UNESCO during its successful, transitional path, and despite all the difficulties it has faced, which have enabled it to achieve a great part of its imperative objectives since its original inception.

UNESCO is in need of a fresh new momentum that should be characterized by creativity in its approach, creativity that will enable it to deal with on-going developments that hinder the better performance its work as necessary and required, he said, stressing that the organization should be once again introduced to the world with its clearly defined objectives and goals then the international community will realize its important role, now more than ever, to sow peace in human minds, so that societies will react in conjunction with it and provide it with all the means necessary to perform its mission in the most bountiful and productive way.

Dr. Al Kuwari invited the “Mediterranean Universities Union” and similar regional organizations to consider taking on new university and scientific research projects related to these issues, and present them as opportunities to be co-financed by the UNESCO and major international companies, economic institutions, civil society organizations and philanthropic foundations that are interested in funding such initiatives for the noble objective of truly enhancing the lives and understanding of human beings everywhere, across all walks of life.

The Mediterranean Universities Union ‘s meeting was attended by Qatar’s Ambassador to the Italian Republic, HE Abdulaziz bin Ahmed Al-Maliki Al Juhani, Chairman of the Mediterranean Universities Union and the deans of more than 80 universities, representing approximately 20 countries.

Source: Qatar News Agency