Ammon News, View Points

Helping Jordan in deeds, not only in words

[2/25/2018 5:48:46 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Khalid Dalal - It is not enough to hear the nice words various senior foreign officials keep saying about Jordan and its wise dealing with regional challenges. And it is not enough for them to keep emphasising that the country has always been bolstering the stability and security of the region. Its leadership is the real moderate voice in the Middle East. The country has always been helping with international causes, starting with fully supporting the just cause of the Palestinians to hosting millions of refugees from different countries, etc. It is not enough, as there is an urgent need for real support from Jordan’s friends, now and not tomorrow, as the country is facing aggravating economic woes that increasingly put pressure on Jordanians. How to help is simple. Take the five-year $6.3 billion-assistance memorandum of understanding between Jordan and the United States on economic and military cooperation, signed in Amman recently, as a good example to follow. Jordan is a real friend to many countries and their leaders, as well as influential Eastern and Western decision-making circles, are keen to listen to His Majesty King Abdullah’s wise and brave advice on how to tackle regional and global problems. Many, especially the G-20 countries, should follow suit and sign agreements similar to the Jordanian-US deal. Incidentally, the G-20 accounts for 85 per cent of the global GDP. If the world loves Jordan and admires its stances, as it says, it has to prove it in deeds, not in words only. The writer is former media and communication director at His Majesty King Abdullah’s Office, former adviser at the Royal Hashemite Court, and currently senior media adviser and special representative for international strategic communication at Talal Abu Ghazaleh Group.

Read Comments

Ph.D. Programs in Science and Technology at Jordan’s Universities:Between Reality and Ambition

[12/18/2017 5:37:39 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Dr. Ghazi G. Al-Khateeb - No one can miss the basic requirements and default criteria needed for a Ph.D. program including human resources, advanced research labs and equipment, financial resources for research assistantships and research support, well-prepared study plans, trained research lab technicians, and proper research environment. This step is undeniably important and essential; without having the needed facilities and resources, an academic institute will never have the courage to think of initiating such programs. However, opening Ph.D. programs is not as easy as some academics may deem. To be ready to elevate the master program to the upper level (Ph.D. program) and promote the master graduates one leap up, it is not a matter of taking the required courses and fulfilling the academic requirements including the Ph.D. thesis. The difference between a Ph.D. graduate and a master graduate is not only a set of courses taken in the Ph.D. program and a thesis done to complete the requirements. If that is the case; then, the Ph.D. program will not differ than taking another master degree with extra courses and another master thesis. Even in some cases, the master student may be asked or advised by his/her thesis advisor to take extra courses and research an advanced subject in his/her master thesis. The coursework and thesis research work are only a component of the whole process. To launch a Ph.D. program, first one need to watch for the next step after the master program that will elevate the entire group one level up! This step is not simple, because the goal in a Ph.D. program is not to complete an assigned set of coursesrequired from a Ph.D. student as in an undergraduate program; but rather to develop an original and innovative research in the area of interest. Graduate courses should be developed to assist students to take what they find beneficial and useful to their research and not to acquire specific facts and methods. Research terminology such as research tools, skills, creativity, innovation, integrity/honesty, high-level research work versus low-level research work are not only terms that should be known, but rather these terms should be understood and applied as well. The common practice of selecting top-ranked undergraduate students, encouraging them to pursue their master degree, and then screening the master students to go for the Ph.D. program is not always the way to go when it comes to producing successful Ph.D. holders. In reality, getting out of this box and thinking more thoroughly are needed. Being a top-ranked student is a key aspect but there are so many elements that need to be addressed when it comes to graduate studies. Sometimes, there are cases of excellent students in terms of grades and course achievement; and yet, they lack significant skills and talents such as communication skills, professional writing skills, presentation skills, personality, research-oriented attitude, way of thinking and analysis, and self-motivation. The backbone of any Ph.D. program is a solid research platform that should be established in the institute. This research platform has several components; one of them is the research background of the professors who are in charge of the program. The Ph.D. program needs professors with long experience and new faculty members, who have new research and technology; this will benefit the program both ways. It is also important to ensure that the long experience for professors in the Ph.D. program is not circular in nature but accumulative and updated. The originality and practicality of research considered in the program should be given a great attention. In addition, the contribution of research and what it adds to the current knowledge are important. Literature review done in the thesis work of graduate students is a key element related to this point. Technical advisors in graduate programs should pay attention to the literature review that graduate students do for their thesis work. In most cases, graduate students overlook the significance of literature review. The common trend among students when they conduct literature review is to underline paragraphs and stuff the research study with pages of literature related to the research topic without recognizing the main goal of literature review. Consequently, the purpose of conducting a literature review becomes ambiguous. In other words, it is hardly understood why this researcher is doing this literature review. It is very important to realize the research direction and how previous studies affect the direction and the progress of the research. Explicitly, if the research does not build on previous research findings and take them one step forward, then the research conducted is having one or more of the following descriptions: outdated (obsolete), difficult to publish, does not add to current research knowledge, not original, impractical, does not interest practitioners or readers in the field. Mentality of research among professors, students, and lab technicians and research culture in the community are still deficient. Without these two components, research will never be conducted the right way. For this reason, it will be difficult to implement Ph.D. programs that will produce successful graduates. Despite the fact that there are some rare cases of Ph.D. graduates from a few universities in Jordan who can be considered successful, Ph.D. graduates will not be competent enough with Ph.D. graduates from top-ranked universities in the United States and other countries. Top-ranked universities in the USA (for instance) normally don not hire its Ph.D. graduates before gaining another experience from another academic institute or research center. Therefore, universities in Jordan should be capable of providing such policy to enable Ph.D. graduates to gain another experience from outside the big system of research and education in Jordan before hiring them. Staying in the same systemwill never benefit the educational process and graduate studies. On top of this, the internal belief in research philosophy is lacking in some cases. In addition, the attitude that research is done mainly for promotion or/and to collect some financial incentives became the only motivate behind conducting and publishing research work. Although this is not wrong; nevertheless, it impacts the internal enthusiasm and eagerness of why researchers and graduate teams should conduct research. Non-sense signs that raise several questions against healthy environment for research and Ph.D. programs inside the campus of any university should be eliminated. For instance, the absence of research labs and utilizing teaching labs to conduct research is a major problem. This of course sets a huge limitation to conduct research in these labs by graduate students particularly when these labs are fully occupied for teaching purposes. Conducting research in the Ph.D. program requires students to stay in the lab for long hoursto perform experimental work. Several questions are raised herein; are graduate students allowed to stay in the labs after 4 or 5pm? And if they are allowed, are there proper and safe environment for them to feel like they are in a research-oriented university!? Is there a flexible system to adopt administrative procedures and to ease urgent procurement processes during the time of research in case research instrumentations and supplies are needed in the middle of the research!? Are those in charge of the Ph.D. program capable of maintaining the program once it is established? The fear to terminate the Ph.D. program once it is initiated is always there. Diversity is another significant issue that lies behind the success of institutes and establishments in general and the progress of research and development in any academic institute in particular. Several academic departments in many universitiesbecame exclusive to Ph.D. holders having the same culture and background. In some cases, this situation does not provide a healthy environment for graduate studies, research, and education in general. Diversity influences the interrelationship between academics, the research climate and environment, competition, and sustainability. The thirst and keenness behind graduate studies and conducting research is a long story. To provide some examples; the driving force of doing a research in the field of highways and pavements should be the disastrous problems that Jordan’s highways suffer from. A researcher in urban planning should look into the dreadful and random expansions and troubles in the urban facilities and areas located in large cities. A researcher in traffic engineering and geometric highway design should realize the catastrophes in the streets and highways that lack basic design elements (such as: no balancing in lanes, no proper marking, no proper traffic signal designs, tragic roundabouts that lack enough weaving sections and minimum standard design, no sufficient turning radii for turning or U-turns, dislocated or damaged traffic signs, and so on). A researcher in water and environment should recognize the urgent need for water resources and the vital necessity of clean environment in this country. Many more examples from other fields can be also listed. It is true that there is a gap between practical research (if any) and decision makers and some other politics that may contribute into the whole picture and applying the outcomes and findings of some research in the real-life practices. However, Ph.D. holders still need to search for the calibrated compass that will take them to the right direction in case they have the eagerness and truthful allegiance in order to implement good research and to start planting research culture and mentality in the academic community; its only mainspring is to develop and improve our community, amenities, and graduate studies.

Read Comments

To ensure competitiveness

[11/29/2017 4:58:09 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By Marwan Al-Shammari - Despite the economic struggle of the country in recent years, Jordan still enjoys several advantages over other countries in the Middle East, foremost among which are security, political stability, moderate culture, human capital and geographical location. More needs to be done in regard to competitiveness, however, as this is an important indicator often used by financial, economic and business analysts to make recommendations regarding investment in that country, and to make comparisons and recommendations to multinational corporations that seek new markets and opportunities to invest. King Abdullah has reached out to business leaders and owners in the US and elsewhere, and works tirelessly to put Jordan in the spotlight as an attractive destination for investors. He instructed the government to work harder on the problems that used to constitute major hurdles for potential local and foreign investors. However, governments are still too slow to catch up with the King’s efforts and calls for reasons that are unclear. The comparative advantage theory suggests that a country must specialise only in the products, services, industries, fields and activities in which it is more efficient than other countries. That should apply to Jordan as well. We need to focus on what we do best and let go of inefficient, ineffective and useless activities; we need to stop wasting money on things that other countries do better. In the same vein, the private sector should be encouraged to play a role in fields the government has been unable to improve and compete internationally. In the medical field, for example, Jordan had an incomparable reputation in the region for decades. Recently, however, there has been very slow progress that negatively affected the country’s position on the map, so the question is why did the government not focus on remaining superior in this field, to maintain competitiveness, instead of wasting efforts and money on several useless industries that it could have left to the private sector or foreign investors. Or why not make fair allocation of its limited resources based on the importance and contribution of each sector in which it has a stake? Why not focus on industries, products and services in which the cost of input is lower than in other countries, and improve their efficiency by using the available know how in order to lead to improved productivity in domains where we have a comparative advantage, and decrease the deficit in the balance of trade with countries from which we import some products? Many foreign items that are sold in the Jordanian market have inputs that are available in Jordan. Why, then, not manufacture them locally? Why not encourage producing companies to come in and take advantage of the low cost of the inputs to start manufacturing those items in Jordan, with the added advantage of location, which helps them cut costs? Jordan also has a talented human capital, skilled labour and an active research community that, if well utilised, could help the country reach success. The use of technology is vital to the survival, competitiveness and profit making of companies and countries; it helps increase efficiency, quality and revenues. Yet, in Jordan, the government has been slow in incorporating technology in its major functional areas; the e-government project, still stumbling and suffering in many respects, is a case in point. There are no excuses for it. The country has the resources needed, the skilled workers and experts, knowledge and information, and people’s and private sector’s will to implement it. So why the slow pace, especially when knowing that it is important to attracting foreign investment? Also important are partnerships between the public and private sectors, and between local communities and these two sectors. Equally essential to attracting foreign investment are government regulations, which should be streamlined to make the country an important investment destination. Competition is fierce and without a true and positive collaboration among all concerned parties, it is impossible to succeed.

Read Comments

Protecting Our Planet through Climate Action on Multiple Fronts

[11/14/2017 3:50:30 PM]

AMMONNEWS - By Minister Lee Ying-yuan - Climate change is a scientific fact, and its effects are already being distinctly felt around the world, threatening human health,the places we inhabit, and the sustainability of our socioeconomic systems. This includes Taiwan, whichthis year alone has experienced several extreme weather events. In early June, SanzhiDistrict inNew Taipei City, northern Taiwan, received 615 mm of heavy rain in justnine hours, while the mountainous regions around Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan received a record1,446 mm in total.In late July, two typhoons (Nesat and Haitang) struck the island in close succession, a rarely seen event resulting in a record 690mm of rainfall in the southern coastal region of Pingtung'sJiadongtownshipover a three-day period. This long-duration high-intensity rainbroke records and causedserious property damage. Then, in August, northern Taiwan suffereda heatwave with sustained temperatures of above 37°C, surpassing all heatwaves recorded over the last 100 years. International scientific reports have also confirmed that average global temperatures in 2016 were the hottest on record. These examples offer irrefutable evidence thatclimate change is real and already happening, with dire consequences. However, we must not feel all is lost. Rather, we must recognize that the planet’swellbeing is inextricably linked to humanity’s survival,and seize the opportunity totransform the way we live through direct actions. Taiwan, an island nation, is heavily exposed to theworst effectsof climate change. In response to global calls for climate action, we haveintroduced the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, and formulatedthe National Climate Change Action Guidelines on how tocontrol and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the subsequent Greenhouse Gas Reduction Action Plan targets six major areas—energy, manufacturing, transportation, residential and commercial property, agriculture, and the environment—with over 200 policy initiatives, manyof them cross-ministerial. The Guidelines also call for regular five-year reviews to ensureeffective management. In order to build capacity for clean energy generation in Taiwan and improve air quality, the government has set an ambitious target of an overall energy mix of20 percentrenewables and50 percent natural gas,with coal dropping to 30 percent, by 2025. Similarly, ithas amended the Electricity Act to spur the development of green energy, adopted the Energy Development Guidelinesand,through public participation, developed the Energy Transformation White Paper to help accelerate the transition.It also providesincentives,such asthose involving financing, investment capital, funding channels, and personnel training, to enlist the help of business and industry in developing green energy technologies. In short, Taiwan is doing all it can to combat climate changein line with the Paris Agreement, and is striving to cutcarbon emissionsto 50 percent of 2005 levels by 2050. In theendless pursuit of economic development, societies the world over have madeexcessiveuse of fossil fuels and squandered Earth's natural resources.We are paying a heavy price today with not only climate change, but also serious environmental destruction and pollution. Taiwan’sefforts over the years to promote recycling and waste reduction has caught the world’s attention. In May 2016, the Wall Street Journalpublished an article entitled “Taiwan: The World's Geniuses of Garbage Disposal.” It pointsout thatTaiwan, once dubbed Garbage Island, has since become a recycling poster child, ranking among the top three countries in the world for its initiatives topromote a circular economy. These include creatingan industrial value chain, setting upspecial circular economy zones,and exploringbusiness opportunities tomake the necessary industrial transformation. It is hoped that,by 2022, Taiwan will have become a circular economy hub in Asia, with a healthy regenerative economy that can continue to grow while reducingwaste, and help light the way towards a sustainable world. Leaders aroundthe world, including the Pope, are increasingly calling for more to be done to combat the threats brought by climate change. The leader of Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen, has pledged that this countrywill be an unrelentingly positive force in pursuing the solutions so desperately needed to preserve our planet for future generations. Through bilateral agreements and multilateral cooperation, Taiwan hasfor a long time now quietly gone about fulfilling its role as a responsible member of the international community. We want nothing more than to work with other countries,and do all that can be done to tackle climate change. We will happilyshare our experience and knowledge in environmental protection, particularlywith thosecountries that really need help. Taiwan wants to be a contributor to the green energy policies, green industries, and green employment we must create to protectour planet.

Read Comments

U.S strategy in the Middle East: Two crescents and one Kurdish star

[10/11/2017 1:39:52 PM]

AMMONNEWS - By kamal Alzghoul When Jordan feared the establishment of Shiite crescent that supposed to be extending from Iraq to Lebanon, Jordan was right and precautions were taken against the expected crescent. Jordan adopted a very strong foreign policy to prevent any militia’s presence on its border .When the preliminary results of the Syrian’s revolution has become against Jordanian vision and it serves the interests of Russia and Iran, Jordan tried with the U.S to avoid the circumstances resulted from the collapse of the Syrian opposition, thus, the American foreign policy towards the Middle East began to be very clear in the region. As a strong competitor to the U.S, Russia wants to play a big role in Syria to pave the road to an economical gate to Europe and to find foothold along the Mediterranean coast. In order to study American foreign policy in the Middle East, I would like to introduce the priorities of U.S policy: Israel’s security: whether the Syrian opposition won the war or not, it doesn't make a sense to Israel, the most important Israeli priority in the region is to restrain Iranian nuclear plant and to disrupt Hezbollah's operations that affiliated to Iran functioning on Syrian soil, therefore, the bombardment of Hezballah’s positions by Israeli warplanes reflects Israel's concern over Iran's nuclear program, and it is important to realize that Israel has bombed weapons and ammunition sites belong to Hezbollah’s militia and it didn’t bomb one single site belongs to Syrian regime. As has been noted, Americans try to adopt a long-term political program to secure Israel as a very strong ally in the region. Iran: When talking about the US strategy, then the Iranian nuclear file and its repercussions on Israel should be mentioned. For me personally, the Iranian nuclear file is the most active factor that shapes American strategy in Syria as well as the presence of Russian forces in the Middle East. Some analysts do not pay attentions to this file and link America's procrastination policy towards Syrian crises to Russian intervention in the region, although this linkage has its political value, but the Iranian nuclear program factor was present and strongly has calculations in the US strategic plan on the long-term, overwhelmingly, U.S supported the Syrian opposition tactically and logistically to see what will be the next step in the future. Turkey: Turkey has been an active player in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and has made a big contribution in shaping its forces, but America hasn’t been satisfied with the current Turkey's ruling regime. As far as possible, Turkey accused the U.S in supporting the failed military coup, so Turkey has been surprised when America has hand in that military coup. Therefore, to avoid the establishment of Kurdish state, Turkish forces has been very active on the Syrian soil in Aleppo, in the rural of Idlib and in the Turkmen regions of the northern part of Syria, where Turkey has become a partner in Geneva and Astana negotiations. America has changed its tactics in Syria to form a comprehensive strategy in the region to keep up with the status quo. As a result of that, U.S established the Syrian Democratic Forces in the north of Syria close to the Turkish border which escalated the diplomatic tension between the two countries. Absolutely, this has a big reflection on the preliminary results of the Syrian revolution. Russia: Russia has not been in the Middle East since 1946 when it contributed to the establishment of the Republic of Mahabad (Kurdish ethnic state) in the northern part of Iran, and at that time, Mullah Mustafa( the father of Massoud Barzani : The current President of Kurdistan region in Iraq )- was the chief of staff in that state and Mahabad state was established upon the allegation of Russia which said that Hitler’s army was in the region, and Russia wanted to protect the region from him. Then U.S practiced pressures to let Russia leave Iran after the Second World War because many Russian companies also started petroleum exploration process in the northern counties of Iran. So for the time being, it was very surprising that America allowed a heavy Russian presence in the Middle East. According to the analytical indications on the ground, U.S adopts an attrition war to drain Russian and Iranian economic resources in order to won the war. The features of the US strategy have become clear, with two major factors, firstly, the oil because U.S considers the Middle East as a gas station for its allies in Central Asia. Secondly , Dismantling Iranian nuclear program, so it created a fragile nuclear agreement with Iran to buy time side by side with its diplomacy during the Arab Spring, and by the way, Israel appeared to be the first supporter of this strategy, and it has been recently supported the Kurdish referendum to merge four countries into war: Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. On the other hand, Israel supported the Kurds’ referendum in order to limit Iranian role in the region as well as having an ally very close to Iran to make its policy more bridgeable over the Iranian territories. In this sense, the energies of the Arab-Spring participants have been consumed for the interest of Israel. In addition, America hesitated to support the Kurdish referendum to achieve three priorities: suspending Iranian nuclear program, blocking Turkish policy in Syria, and get Russians out of the region. By and large, America will accomplish its political and military objectives in the region by establishing a Kurdish star between the two crescents (safety areas), first one, extends from Iraq to Israel on the Jordanian border, and the other one, from northern Iraq to the Mediterranean close to the Turkish border, so that, it can limit Russian presence and Syrian regime role only inside Damascus and in the middle of Syrian territory. Definitely U.S intends to practice pressure over Russia to leave gradually from the Middle East and the game of political brinksmanship is expected in the future to come between U.S, and Russia .In conclusion and after studying the expected course of actions in the U.S strategy, America will continue to play by all cards in order to deplete all players in an attrition war which may extend to the depth of Iran with a long-term plan, and that is why the American support for the Kurdish independence was postponed for the purpose of building a post-ISIS strategy.

Read Comments

Taiwan, a Valuable Partner for SDGs—True Universality

[9/7/2017 5:59:59 AM]

AMMONNEWS - By David Tawei Lee - “As we embark on this great collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind”—Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development . New York is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. As with visitors from other countries, those from Taiwan love to experience first-hand the city’s famous attractions—the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and, of course, the very nerve center of global affairs: the Headquarters of the United Nations. These landmarks—the latter in particular—are symbols of equality, diversity and freedom. Regrettably, the brilliantluster of these ideals has become tarnished of late as more and more visitors from Taiwan find themselves being turned away from the UN grounds, discriminated against simply because of their country of origin. The UN is about people, yet the universality of human rights that the UN proclaims does not extend to Taiwan and its 23 million people. This mistreatment dates back to 1971, when our government lost its representation in the organization—and in the intervening decades, Taiwan has met with challenges and isolation with respect to its international situation. Nevertheless, this adversity has propelled us forward and we have never retreated, for we believe very strongly that those who follow the path of virtue can never truly be alone. While traveling the world to carry out my duties as minister of foreign affairs, I have always marveled at how Taiwan’s experience in such areas as environmental protection, public health and medicine, agriculture, education and ICT has helped our partners develop and grow. We are committed to continuing our interaction and cooperation with our friends and partners, and to maintaining global peace, security and prosperity through mutually beneficial collaboration. Despite Taiwan’s efforts and the recognition they have earned, despite the need for universality, and despite the repeated pledge to leave no one behind, the UN seems content to leave the 23 million people of Taiwan behind. In May of this year, Taiwan was refused attendance at the 70th WHA, despite having participated as an observer over the previous eight consecutive years. Rejecting Taiwan—which has invested over US$6 billion in international medical and humanitarian aid efforts since 1996, benefiting millions of people worldwide—runs counter to common sense, and creates a blind spot in the World Health Organization’s operations, just like the one that cost lives during the 2003 SARS epidemic. This unjust treatment, however, has not and will never deter Taiwan from carrying out its duties both to its people and to the international community. As the world’s 18th largest trading and 11th freest economy, Taiwan has brought its laws and regulations into line with the UN’s human rights conventions, and in terms of living up to democratic values, Taiwan has worked as hard as any country—and perhaps harder than most—to advance equality. The Taiwanese people elected their country’s first female president in 2016, and 38 percent of their lawmakers are women. Taiwan is also home to a vibrant civil society whose civic organizations constantly reach out to the world. And whenever disasters strike, rescue workers from Taiwan’s nongovernmental organizations are right there on the ground, providing assistance, with their devotion and professionalism clear for all to see. Taiwan is currently working on its first Voluntary National Review, which will document many of its concrete achievements regarding the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In terms of public health and medicine, for example, in recent years Taiwan has worked alongside a host of other countries to fight such infectious diseases as MERS, Ebola and Zika. Taiwan has also been promoting a green economy and green energy, aiming to raise the proportion of renewable energy generated for the country’s power supply to 20 percent—five times the current level—by 2025, while also aiming to lower carbon emissions to at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. Holders of ROC passports enjoy visa-free travel or other forms of travel convenience to 165 countries and territories, which speaks to the respect that Taiwan’s tourists, businesspeople and academics have earned worldwide. Yet, they are unable to take even a single step inside the Headquarters of the UN. For years, representatives from Taiwan’s many nongovernmental organizations involved in indigenous, labor, environmental and women’s rights have been barred from attending meetings and conferences held at the UN’s New York headquarters and at the Palais des Nations in Genevasimply because they hail from Taiwan. Similarly, to the outrage of the international press community, Taiwanese journalists are not allowed to cover UN meetings in person. These discriminatory measures put in place by UN bureaucrats—targeted specifically against the people of Taiwan—are inappropriately justified by the invocation and misuse of 1971’s General Assembly Resolution 2758 (XXVI). It is important to remember that, while it seated the People’s Republic of China in the UN, this resolution did not address the issue of representation of Taiwan and its people in the organization; much less did it give the PRC the right to represent the people of Taiwan. It is important to stress the political reality here, which is that the PRC does not now, nor has it ever, held jurisdiction over Taiwan. Indeed, as evidenced by the aforementioned ban on Taiwanese inside the UN headquarters, the PRC exerts far more influence on the UN than it does on Taiwan. The preamble of the UN Charter speaks powerfully of the organization’s mission to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.” The government and people of Taiwan strongly believe that their involvement, especially when the UN is calling for the universal implementation of the SDGs, would be to the benefit of all. The absence of Taiwan, on the other hand, will only continue to cripple the effectiveness of this global effort. Taiwan can do much to help the world build a more sustainable future. The people of Taiwan need the international community to support our aspirations and our right to fair treatment by the UN. At the very least, stop turning us away at the door.

Read Comments

Towards a knowledge-creation learning process

[9/5/2017 2:46:13 PM]

AMMONNEWS - By Marwan A. Alshammari - The excellence of any education system has been shown to greatly aid the advancement of civilised nations. It has been a critical factor in all success stories of countries around the world, especially the West. A great deal of this success is contingent upon the outcomes of the different educational levels, starting from the primary school and continuing all the way up to the graduate levels of education where focused knowledge can be produced, complemented and reproduced; it later becomes input in another process, that of implementation, in which knowledge is put into play in a practical manner by all involved (companies, governments, society, etc..). Many teachers and university lecturers see classroom learning merely as a place in which they share their knowledge with their students. This is the traditional thought that has not helped us move forward in many regards, especially in knowledge creation. It is true that knowledge sharing is one of the primary goals of educational institutions, training programmes, and leadership development courses, but it is no longer the only primary goal of education. Teachers and university professors in almost all undeveloped and under-developed countries continually feed information to their students without giving them the time to digest, process, imagine or reflect, or without pushing them to challenge the given information, explore the shared knowledge or add to it, use it in creating new knowledge and building a broader perspective on the subjects addressed in the class so that students can then develop new thoughts that can later become new knowledge. We are stuck with the forming and performing stages of Tuckman (1965) model of group development, sending and reception model of communication without paying attention to the importance of having critical discussion and constructive processing of the knowledge being shared. We neglect the importance of challenging and motivating, and thus we are far beyond the advanced nations in the field of knowledge creation. There is no doubt that the existing view of learning was at some point the key driver of “knowledge-sharing revolution” in the early 1990s. Then, the goal was to make knowledge more accessible through knowledge wells that stored knowledge to inform others who might have needed the know how relevant to their interests, so the focus was on spreading the existing knowledge and making it easily available for consumption by the interested parties. Without demeaning the worth of knowledge sharing, scholars and knowledge experts have suggested that the most important form of learning today is creating novel knowledge. Societies are increasingly being challenged by circumstances that go beyond the schoolbooks and functional instructions, and require leaders to invent on the spot, developing state-of-the-art methods that were not used before. In a swiftly moving world, much of the novel knowledge evolves as a tacit knowledge — knowledge that is in our heads but that we have difficulties articulating to ourselves, much less to others. This tacit knowledge evolves as we encounter new situations, and it is often tremendously valuable because it reflects our first-hand experience with the changes around us, but it is much harder to access and spread, let alone use it in creating unique and novel knowledge by collaborating with others. It typically cannot be put in bullet points or expressed via PowerPoint slides and shared with others. The way to initiate a knowledge-creation learning process begins with exposing our students to a combination of knowledge sources from differing as well as related knowledge spheres such as science, technology, engineering and math, in addition to their major field of interest. It also requires that we do not lock their minds by adjusting their thoughts to fit the situation in the world around them; rather, we, professors and teachers, should encourage their critical thinking, eliminate the limits we used to put on their imagination, and inspire, motivate and push them to think uniquely. That will help them build up the “associative fluency”, which is their ability to creatively connect any two or more seemingly unrelated pieces of information to come up with a unique interpretation, explanation, outcome or any relevant and novel knowledge. The aim of today’s learning is to create new tacit knowledge. This kind of learning is best achieved in classrooms, labs and small learning forums that bring together students with diverse skills, perspectives, backgrounds and social views, and that help them collaborate on the subjects being discussed, provide their inputs after they have digested the theoretical information in the textbooks and then take the knowledge they learned so they can make practical implications. The learned knowledge then can be used in a brainstorming process that leads to creating new knowledge. Learning in small groups such as the classrooms is faster when the members of this learning process are well connected, have mutual trust, and common passion for knowledge sharing and knowledge creation. Therefore, it is important that faculty show they students the respect they need to get onboard with a strong passion towards the learning process. Trust-based relationships are very important and facilitate the learning process. We are living in a rapidly changing world where graduates with unique skills, abilities and knowledge are highly desired in the job market. Skills in this changing world have shorter life span, so instead of feeding graduates periodic knowledge, we should focus on preparing them well so they can be knowledge creators and knowledge builders. We should also focus on taming the primary competences that can quicken learning so that new skills can be more swiftly attained. The focus should be on dynamic capabilities, such as inquisitiveness, critical thinking, risk taking, imagination, creativity, and social and emotional intelligence. Once we have developed those capabilities, our students will be well prepared to quickly advance their skill sets in ways that make them desirable in the domestic and global market, and should be able to add value in any workplace they would join. We should focus our efforts on challenging the conventional beliefs about learning, which were dominant in a stable world, not in our highly dynamic world. We need to rethink all our learning/teaching processes, means, tools and systems. We need strategies that focus on knowledge creation rather than knowledge sharing and feeding only.

Read Comments