Dr Ahmed Hassan al Bulushi, dean, National University of Science and Technology, firmly believes that the current changing environment, the demands of the national economy and the overall global changes are forces that warrant new academic practices and systems in the field of eduction. “The question is: Why don’t we get ready with a new dishdasha, knowing that Eid is next door,” he says, stressing on the importance for educational reforms and upgrading of all curricula to suit the challenges of the time.
Dr Bulushi points out that Universities and Colleges are places for producing thinkers and innovators who contribute to developing the country’s economy and standard of living as well as help the nation in its forward march. However, it is not possible to achieve such high-level objectives if Higher Education Institutions (HEI) do not respond to national, regional, and global changes.
“In Oman, we have a culture of wearing a new dishdasha for each Eid because we believe that old dishdashas are not suitable for Eid. Similarly, the old academic curriculum, teaching, and learning pedagogies cannot fit for all circumstances. The changing environment, the national economy’s demands, and the overall global changes are forces that call for a change to new academic practices and systems,” he said.
He further pointed out that new skillsets are needed for the current developments and future job markets. Everyone reads about the changes that are being imposed on businesses daily. However, very little reactions to these changes take place at the academic and training institutions, he said. For example, one can ask as the result of macro-level changes in the business environment, how may programmes have been changed or replaced. What type of changes took place at the pedagogical level? The answer, probaby, is ‘none’, so far.
“The question is why don’t we get ready with the new dishdasha knowing that Eid is next door? I believe, HEIs in their current form and working format are not ready to serve the demand of producing suitable graduates unless drastic changes and reforms are introduced at all levels of academic practices, starting with leadership approaches.
“|The teaching, research, and innovation nexus has to be a hardcore reality with evidence on the ground supported by integrated curriculum and contemporary teaching methodologies. Thus, this is important for producing real thinkers and innovators for the society. But this requires redirected investment. Hence, its not possible to achieve different goals using the same old routs,” Dr Bulushi asserts.
For HEIs to play their intended role of contributing to help the nation to achieve its vision, changes in the academic content, the delivery, the training system, and thinking patterns are a must, he said.
“We are witnessing changes in the country and anticipating reforms at different levels, so that Oman becomes one of the leading countries in the world, in line with the vision of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik. I believe, HEIs have to be true partners in this vision, not just simple side players. Universities make nations by producing renowned national leaders, great thinkers, and scientists. Therefore, it is time for HEIs to take their true position.
Acknowledging the fact that HEIs do have their own challenges, he, however, stressed that efforts are needed to overcome these challenges and make a new start.
“Indeed, change does come with a cost and by taking some difficult decisions. But certainly, this would be the right investment. For the new Eid, we have to have a new dishdasha!” he said.