“To bridge the gap between the inability of the reality and the ambition of hopes”… I stopped long before this phrase when I was reading president Sisi speech in celebrating Science Day as I believe this gap is the black hole absorbing any achievement or even any thinking of achievement.
In my humble understanding of the expression, I believe “inability of the reality” exceeds what is important of financial and technical capabilities and difficult circumstances that have to do with the educational and research process in Egypt to what is equally and perhaps more important… I here mean values, morals, traditions, and behaviors; that system including all those together and which was dismantled or bypassed… or as our folks say became “empty” or having nothing useful inside.
Of course most of us know by heart or remember what was said about morals like the poem verse saying “nations are nothing without morals… should their morals decline, these nations will vanish”… and the one saying “good manners are your key to a good soul… so train yourself to good manners so that you can have a kind soul”… some may mock this “morals” thing either because they consider it outdated and nothing but empty talking that never been real on the ground… or because the word is more reiterated by those who do not have morals… or for many other reasons unlimited to count.
However, I believe we are all invited to discuss the “inability of the reality” in our universities, research centres and all positions occupied by those who obtained the highest scientific degrees and academic awards… also, other positions held by those who consider themselves, and the society as well considers them, crème de la crème of the society.
This inability of the reality has to do first with the inter-relations between professors, assistant professors, lecturers, assistant lecturers and teaching assistants… also between all those and the library, laboratory, disciplines of research and students.
And second, it has to do with the relation between science and culture… and between them and the public affairs; meaning the society problems on all levels… and how soon this thing of “staying in an ivory tower” will come to an end… also, it is about when it is time to put an end to falling short of fulfilling the academic duty.
Third, this inability of the reality has to do with absence of connection and integration between what is supposed to be the main spots of renaissance in any society; these are universities, libraries, academies and schools of arts… and in the same level of importance, the national capitalism represented in capitalists, factories, banks and others… the terrible catastrophe is that the relation of some capitalists in Egypt to the tertiary education in specific made it a profit-gaining relation where greed and ignorance dominate… examples are many but it is not our point right now.
Now we come to the fourth aspect of this inability of the reality; that is the frightening duplicity in the educational system and as a result, the scientific and research system… as since the time of Mohammed Ali Pasha, we have a duplicity problem between an educational institution whose main curricula depend on rote learning and regarding what was written by the ancestors as better than working our minds to come up with what suits our current affairs today… or at best place them in the same level… and another institution whose curricula depend on understanding, criticizing and working out our mind as the main methodology to go through life… then things even became worse as other duplicity problems occurred when interest in studying our mother language; Arabic, our national history and all that connects to the civilization and cultural aspects of Egypt vanished.
As the article is about to finish, there is one final thing I would like to write about… that is, I would like to say that praising Dr. Ismail Serag ed-Din; the human, scholar, intellectual and expert has nothing to do with a judicial verdict that is able to be reversed by higher courts… also, Bibliotheca Alexandrina has issued a statement signed by its head Dr. Mostafa Elfeqi, in which they hailed Dr. Serag ed-Din and his role… and more than a writer wrote about the same thing.
Here I would like to join all those who expressed their loyalty to Dr. Ismail whom I got near to in many situations and knew him very well and knew how much he loves our country… also the humane feelings and stances he had.
Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar
This article was published in Al Ahram newspaper on August 10, 2017.
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