The Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), ex-officio Secretary General of the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World (FUIW), Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, delivered an address at the opening session of the FUIW 7th General Conference which kicked off this morning at ISESCO Headquarters, under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
In his address, ISESCO Director General stated that the Islamic world was going through a critical period marked by increasing responsibilities in all fields of action, and growing challenges for Muslims, and unresolved crises and conflicts in many parts of the Islamic world. This, as he described, compelled everybody to continue working with dedication and resourcefulness and intense awareness to boost higher education. He also pointed out that investing in education was the bedrock of progress and the driving force of a comprehensive sustainable development that could fulfill the aspirations of Muslims for a better and brighter future for next generations.
“In November 2013, we held the 6th session of this Conference, at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. At that time, the number of Member Universities was 228. Now, this 7th General Conference is held with 317 members, bearing in mind that the 1st General Conference, which was hosted by Mohammed V University in Rabat in 1998, was held with only 129 members”, Dr Altwaijri said.
In this regard, he stated that the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World was achieving constant progress and expansion which was a sign of the very remarkable position it held these days among its regional and international peers. He added that that high standing of the Federation pointed out to the sound approach and policy adopted to meet its objectives, which include, among others, improving higher education to cater for the needs of the Islamic societies and benefit from the scientific and technological novelties in line with the Islamic constants; and strengthening cooperation in such a way as to foster the exchange of expertise, studies, programmes and visits in the fields of education, science, culture and technology. He further stated that the roadmap in this endeavor was the Three-Year Action Plan that he said sought to achieve quality, promote accreditation, innovation, planning, and evaluation and upgrade the university system’s outputs, based on integration of public and private higher education and promotion of comprehensive sustainable development.
In addition, the FUIW Secretary General said that with the advent of the 30th anniversary of the Federation, the General Secretariat was more than ever resolved to forge ahead with improving action and performance and promoting these lofty goals, adding that this Conference would examine three important projects, namely: the Project of “Integrated Programme for Strengthening Exchange and Cooperation among Member Universities”, the Project of “Performance Measurement Mechanism for the Universities of the Islamic World and its Implementation Road Map” and the Project of “Islamic World Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation”.
In the same context, Dr Altwaijri stated that the common thread through all these projects was dedicated action to upgrade higher education to standards commensurate with the great development that vital field was witnessing worldwide, indicating that it was integral to upholding the Federation’s general policy in light of current developments and obstacles to university development, which was the backbone of economic, social, scientific and technological development.
Further, ISESCO Director General said that the Draft Action Plan and Budget for 2016-2018, to be adopted by the Conference, was tailored to meet the urgent requirements imposed by the tough mission shouldered by the Federation. It provided, he explained, for activating seven academic projects, namely: the “Islamic Virtual University”, the “Islamic Body for Quality and Accreditation”, the “Network of Strategic Planning Experts in Member Universities”, the “Centre for University Education and Scientific Research Ethics”, the “Network for the Development of Academic Cooperation and the Labor Market”, the “Authority of Programme, Student and Faculty Exchange”, and the “Project for the Establishment of Leagues of Parallel Faculties”.
In the same vein, Dr Altwaijri emphasized that all these academically valuable projects converged towards developing higher education, upgrading its structures, and fostering its role in promoting a culture of peace, through action at three main levels, namely: the role of universities in countering violence and extremism, the role of university chairs in spreading tolerance and coexistence and exchange of visits between students and faculty.