ISLAMABAD: A task force of international experts has put forth a critical suggestion for universities in the Muslim world, asking them to focus and strive for scientific excellence, and not be influenced by short term gains like numbers and rankings.
The task force has been formed by the Muslim World Science Initiative on the current state of science at universities in Muslim countries.
For the purpose of evaluation of the universities, the task force reviewed various parameters. These included the current global rankings of these universities, their current scientific output (number of citations and papers published), the level of spending on Research and Development, female participation in the scientific personnel, and other key indicators.
The results obtained from the study were then compared to the universities of countries whose per capita income was similar to the Muslim countries, including Brazil, Israel, Spain, South Africa and South Korea.
The finding of the report was that the focus on scientific education in most Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries was significantly low, and the students were rarely encouraged to look beyond their respective domains of study.
The task force recommended for providing liberal scientific education for scientists and engineers to help them tackle interdisciplinary challenges faced by the world today. It proposed the study of philosophy and history of science during the Muslim Golden Age, so that students could develop a perspective on these difficult yet valuable interdisciplinary backgrounds.
A major problem with the Muslim world universities has been the language of instruction. Also, most faculties followed very stringent teaching methodologies like inquiry based science education, hence eliminating any scope of innovating.
Athar Osama, Director of the project made a noteworthy comment that "the purpose of Muslim World Science Initiative is to initiate a dialogue within the society on critical issues at the intersection of science, society, and Islam."
The Science journal Nature featured the key observations and findings of the project.