Thursday, June 01, 2006

Welcome to Education City

"Hey, guess what? My son got accepted to Texas A&M...in Qatar!" No, not really, but you may start to hear people saying just that real soon. US higher education has gone global and experimenting with campuses in the Middle East.

Just minutes from the Persian Gulf's translucent blue waters, through the flat, white desert and past the headquarters of the Al Jazeera news network, a large sign in both Arabic and English reads: "Welcome to Education City." (snip)

Q atar's Education City, perhaps the world's most diverse campus, is almost entirely unknown in the United States, but represents the next step in the globalization of American higher education - international franchising.

Five universities are participating so far. This is an interesting experiment in blending Muslim fundamentalism with Western culture. Here's what one professor said about the mix,

"Our courses are designed to have the kids wrestle intellectually with the question of faith and religion," says the Rev. Ryan J. Maher, assistant dean for academic affairs, who teaches the course, "The Problem With God," at Georgetown's Qatar campus. "They haven't done that before."
I wonder if anyone is teaching a companion course, "The Problem with Man?"

It's also interesting that the students pay the Foundation of Qatar. They then pay the university an undisclosed amount.

But globalization may not just be in higher education. Qatar seems to be placing itself front and center in the globalization of education. They are also using the California based RAND Corporartion to help improve their K-12 education. RAND is also heavily involved education reform and "Reinventing High School" here in the US.

Qatar also recently hosted a joint symposium of Innovations in Education with UNESCO. One of the talks give was, "How can Education For All be achieved through Compulsory Education?" I didn't hear about any workshops on homeschooling. I wonder why? And let's not forget, in 2004, UNESCO linked arms with Bill Gates in education in an effort to foster,
Web-based communities of practice including content development and worldwide curricula reflecting UNESCO values.
The UN sure knows where the money is. Now, I'm not into conspiracy theories, but it does make you wonder a little, doesn't it? Do we really want Qatar, Bill Gates, and the UN developing a worldwide curriclum for our children?

Taking a slight tangent, homeschooled children now make up 13% of the National Spelling Bee televised today. (Homeschoolers are said to represent 2% of the general student population.) If education goes global, will there eventually be an "International Spelling Bee"? And if so, in what language? Can you spell Al Jazeera?

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