Aga Khan University’s Institute for the
Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU–ISMC) hosted a two-day Conference on Higher
Education in Developing Countries: With a Focus on Muslim Contexts, during,
24–25 February 2005 at the Congress Centre in London, UK. The conference brought
together, students, educators, scholars and decision-makers from around the
world. It created an intellectual platform for an assessment of present
educational programmes and the future of higher education in developing
countries, and more specifically within Muslim contexts. It is to be noted the
conference had a very informative website, not only in English, but also in
Arabic, Persian and Urdu (http://www.aku.edu/ismc/samples/urdu/).
The conference focused on the following
(i) vision, purpose and aims of higher
education in developing countries;
(ii) reforms and innovation in higher
education–success and lessons learned.
The following were the sub-themes of the
(a) Academic Issues: Teaching and
(b) Academic Issues: Research;
(c) Governance and Management;
(d) Human and Material Resources;
(e) Higher Education, the Global Context
and Developing Countries; and
(f) Quality Assurance.
The conference had keynote addresses and
closing remarks by internationally known experts, with several concurrent
sessions, on each day. There were many interesting presentations from specific
case studies to innovative proposals. The conference was very well-organized and
the platform it has successfully created is sure to influence the future course
of actions. The excellent presentations will be available in the form of
proceedings in the next few months. We need more of such conferences to address
the urgent issues surrounding education in Muslim countries.
Established in 1983, Aga Khan University
is a private international university, with teaching and research programmes in
Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, Syria and UK. In 2002, the
university established the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations in
London. The goal of the institute is to strengthen research and teaching on the
heritage of Muslim societies in all its historic diversity. The institute seeks
to create opportunities for interaction among academics, traditionally trained
scholars and other professionals so as to deepen understanding of pressing
issues affecting Muslim societies (http://www.aku.edu).