ISLAMIC STATES: Boosting higher education cooperation

The 57 member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, or OIC, have adopted resolutions for promoting a culture of knowledge, scientific research and innovation, according to a declaration made in Kuala Lumpur in October.

The declaration was approved at the Fifth Islamic Conference of Ministers of Higher Education and Scientific Research under the theme "Enculturation of quality in academia, research and innovation towards prosperity of ummah", held in Malaysia from 19-21 October.

In a bid to upgrade universities in OIC member states to world-class level, the declaration called on the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, or ISESCO, to prepare a draft document on key performance indicators for universities in the Islamic world, and present it to an extraordinary session scheduled for 2011 in Saudi Arabia.

Hassanuddeen Abd Aziz, associate professor in the faculty of economics and management sciences of the International Islamic University Malaysia, welcomed the news, telling University World News: "It is the call of the hour for about 1,500 universities in the Islamic world. Few Muslim countries' universities have gained positions among world class universities."

"This initiative will help in making universities serve society and produce a national force capable of building and developing the Islamic world, as well as acting as an instrument of sustainable development through the transfer of scientific knowledge and innovative, sustainable technologies for industrial development," Abd Aziz added.

The conference called on ISESCO to plan and implement a student mobility programme for building a strong network among youth and future leaders of OIC member states in various fields including science, technology and engineering.

The conference also called on ISESCO to prepare the statutes and implementation mechanisms for the Islamic Network of Women Scientists to be submitted to the conference's sixth session, which will be held in Sudan in 2012.

At the conference, ISESCO and the OIC standing committee on scientific and technological cooperation signed a new cooperation programme for 2011-12.

The two-year programme provides for 19 joint activities covering a range of scientific and technological fields, particularly health and medical sciences, space sciences, information and communication technologies, water resources management, communication sciences, food and agriculture, and technological innovation.

Under the programme, grants will also be allocated to outstanding scientific research projects.

Two documents were also approved, including Recent Trends in Emerging Technologies and Current Commitment of Islamic Countries and Strategy for Promotion of Nanotechnology in Islamic Countries.

At the conference it was announced that the first two country reports (Malaysia and Pakistan) under the Atlas of Islamic World Innovation project are to be launched during the 12th Islamic summit conference in Egypt in March 2011.

The Atlas, which is aimed at mapping the key trends and trajectories in science and technology-based innovation, or STI, in OIC countries, will serve as an important reference guide and contain recommendations for strengthening the STI culture in Islamic states.

The ISESCO science and technology awards for 2010 were also awarded, to researchers from Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Palestine and Tajikistan.

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