Director, Planning and Research
The General Directorate of
Adult Education Egypt
Adult Education and Development: Which skills and competencies do we need to survive in the future?
Omar Hamza: I think the most important skill that is needed now in Egypt is effective dialogue. I believe that the revolu tion influenced negatively our openness to different views. Although revolutions in general provide the ground for dialogue and acceptance, in the Egyptian case people became linear in their views and only ticked to what they think is right. I am totally convinced that enhancing the critical dialogue will lead to sustainability in our lives because when you have the ability to be engaged in critical dialogue, then you will be able to understand how others think and act. Thus you will communicate better with them. In my work with literacy teachers, I pay attention that they should be trained on how to enhance their critical dialogue capacities as they will reach better results with learners, who will feel confident to share their views and learn through dialogue.
Research skills are also crucial to our future as Arabs and Egyptians. We became addicted to products and tech nology without thinking carefully about their content and use. When people lack research skills, then they will approach technology as a resource for knowledge without thinking of the content. So we become receivers of knowledge produced by others. This will influence our future where we will not play an active role in the generation of new knowledge. Research skills help us think carefully and collect evidence on what is good and what has to be changed.
Of course these skills are based on another important competency: ‘critical thinking’. Critical thinking increases awareness and accordingly people act for justice and sus tainability. Many people in the Arab world show misunder standings of religious faiths and values and act upon these misconceptions. This is because people have limited oppor tunities to experience how to think about their faiths and how these values are implemented in a society that has new challenges and needs. Critical thinking helps people to understand and reflect on their values and ‘read between the lines’. This allows them to learn about the hidden values of religion and not approach it from an artificial view. This will increase the distance between people and immerse them in issues that also increases their distance from the world around them.
How can we learn them?
I believe that it is difficult because in order to know how to achieve these competences we need to have them and find our models and methods to apply in our context. I think we need to develop our sense of shared responsibility where all stakehold ers, NGOs, local authorities and individuals decide and think to gether what are the best tools that lead to the enhancement of these competences.
But we should keep in mind that to achieve it we need to be aware that democracy is the means for providing the space where these competences are practiced.
Who should teach them?
Everyone, but this requires that people rethink their roles. We still have different expectations from parents, teachers, decision makers, NGOs in terms of their responsibility toward development. As a result their efforts are divided and not built on each other. I think all institutions (governmental, religious and civil society) are responsible to work in har mony to achieve progress.
The international community is also responsible to sup port the Arab region to enhance these skills because the lack of development of our region and others will impact the level of sustainability, peace and development that we all wish for our globe.
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