Opinion

The Educational and Cultural Implications of the Arab 'Spring'

Youssef Laaraj

Rabat - In the last ten years or so, the Arab world has seen unprecedented collapses in the realms of politics and economy, among others.

World NGOs regularly release area-specific rankings, in which Arab nations commonly rank at the bottom of lists in education, human rights, and income for instance while they top those of corruption and autocracy. Educational achievement, reading habits, happiness, security, and infrastructure are but some focal areas of development which keep Arab states and peoples far from achieving their hopes of progress and prosperity.

Citizens have been literally crushed under the reign of a generation of rulers who swept to power and seized its diverse mechanisms tightly to maintain control. They have, henceforth, abused their power by using armed forces to muffle people’s mouths and silence the voice of freedom and right. Mohamed El Bouazizi set fire to burn his body but actually burned his dreams and hopes, once and for all. The event sparked public outrage, and the impulse to protest went viral across the Arab landscape to eventually topple down rooted regimes, while contagious anti-government rallies were extinguished relentlessly throughout the MENA countries and eventually came to calamitous consequences.

The huge success of the revolution in its infant stage was seen as a ‘spring’ blossoming along the Arab territory and enlivened people's latent desires for freedom, rights, and promising opportunities. However, fires of power burned the green aspirations and caused massive violence and bloodshed,  rendering millions destitute and heartbroken. Massive migration, bloodshed, plagues, and a refugee crisis are but a few repercussions of a fake ‘spring’.

Unfortunately, the wish for freedom, justice, equality, and supremacy of the law turned into atrocious nightmare. People’s dreams were immediately plucked by ruthless regimes, such as the case of Syria, while basic rights have been confiscated by newly malicious powers like in Egypt and Libya. People’s aspirations were fragile and emotional enough to be undermined and tranquillized by wicked self-serving agents.

Indeed, the immaturity of the uprisings, evident in their chaos, lack of orientation, and vandalism, reflected poor educational and moral standards. In Egypt, for instance, an anti-harassment movement emerged to record and condemn cases of sexual assault experienced by demonstrating women. Revolutions would have been much successful had they been wisely guided and well-organized.

Issues of vandalism, harassment, theft, inter-group conflicts from the one side, and brutal forces’ intervention, ad hoc arrests, and detentions from the other side demonstrate big degradation in the social, moral, and educational fabrics of Arabs. The so-called ‘spring’ was a mere opportunity for the people as well as regimes to express a deep sense of suppression that remained latent for ages thanks to opiums of faith and fear.

A revolution driven by the relentless outrage of hopeless outlaws,  blinded by a dream for upbeat future of freedoms and rights, could only come to a halt and yield calamitous consequences. The latter have jeopardized the interest of everyone irrespective of their social class, ethnicity, and degree of power. All have been losers in a battle doomed to failure in the light of many awful facts.

The educational systems of the Arab countries are on the verge of total bankruptcy, breeding generations of hopeless, frantic youth. Arab regimes have perpetuated their sterile education based on indoctrination and obsolete teaching methods, whose flesh is mere abstract artificial information.

From the Atlantic to the Gulf, schools have been converted to unattractive, repugnant buildings in which to tranquillize mass children and youth to maintain social stability. Many schools are literally analogous to prisons due to absence of minimal learning conditions such as clean toilets, accessible libraries, or green spaces. Public schools are overwhelmed by large classes, violence, teachers’ demotivation, and mass theoretical syllabi.

Citizens who can afford minimum living standards resort to private schooling to provide their children with adequate education in fair conditions. This gave rise to innumerable for-profit schools across the Arab countries, which profit from the poor and the sick. However, in competing for profit, they instill in children destructive values of competition, indifference, pragmatism, and selfishness.

The future of the world will be marked by unprecedented troubles and concerns, the most evident of which are issues of security and resources. Nations leading in education have foreseen this alarming omen, and geared their entire concern on building their youth’s capacities for an upcoming battle for survival where only the fittest will triumph. These nations, which have reached a peak social assurance and economic well-being, have deemed implanting of values and morals such as solidarity, patriotism, and respect, in addition to the development of leadership and survival skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving, the prime missions of schools.

Most terrorists are bred in Arab and Muslim states. This is so undeniable that the words ‘Arab’ and ‘Muslim’ have become synonymous with terror and phobia worldwide, which jeopardize safety of millions of Arab-origin expatriates around the world. This is a result of a bankrupt education and degenerating cultural values.

Lost parental education, added to corrupt regime-owned media discourse, and stark social schizophrenia made the Arab peoples’ safe existence at critical stake. In his book “Man, the Unknown”, Alexis Carrel argues that countries and societies eventually break down when people reach the verge of social and moral degeneration. The prominent thinker emphasizes moral education as the cornerstone of social stability and capacity building, while degeneration only generates conflict, selfishness, and indifference, which bring about the eventual collapse of the entire civilization.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity. 

© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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