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Education not skyscrapers

August 07, 2011

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I ENDORSE Khwaja Umer Farooq’s view expressed in his letter, ‘We need education, not skyscrapers’ (Aug 5), that Muslim and Arab world need education and not ‘Kingdom Tower’, the world’s tallest building, which Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal plans to build at a cost of $1.2bn.

This has reminded me of an event when during 1949 the world Jewry planned to build a gigantic place of worship in Jerusalem and to accomplish this lofty task they collected $1billion from all over the world, an enormous figure in the late 1940s.

When this huge amount was finally handed over to the chief rabbi to start doing the needful, he contended that the spread of education was more exalted a cause than building a synagogue.

Therefore, the chief priest decided to establish from this collected amount an educational trust so that not a single Jew remained uneducated.

As a result, in 1950 the worlds’s great educational trust was established in Israel and as a consequence at present not a single Jew is illiterate.

This is the reason that this small community of 12.9 million people has produced more than 60 Nobel laureates in the field of science. The highest level of learning achieved by the Jews, therefore, has positioned them as one of the most powerful people in the world.

Needless to say the lowest literacy rate in the Muslim world, which is the chief cause of social malice such as poverty, hunger, political uncertainty and, worst of all, terrorism, is of its own making as our policymakers have always put education at the lowest of their priorities.

Even in Arab countries the amount set apart for education and research is amusingly 0.1 per cent of their total income. This is even four times less than in African countries which spend 0.51 per cent of their income on research.

I agree with Umer Farooque that the world’s tallest building would not bring any change in the lives of people. It is the investment in education and research which can provide a better opportunity to the young generation and can also bring economic revolution in Muslim countries.

ISHA KURESHI Karachi