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Support for students..?

By Zuhair A Tawfiqi

I was recently made aware of the fact that a Health Sciences College affiliated to the University of Sharjah in the UAE grants a 50 per cent fee concession to outstanding students, irrespective of their nationalities.

The magnanimous gesture is the result of the initiatives of Sharjah Ruler and Supreme Council member Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, his enlightened thought and his role as a supporter of science, culture and literature in the Gulf and Arab region.

This is no doubt a step that would contribute towards the scientific development of the nation as well as make the student more capable of facing life’s challenges and obstacles. It is also in the spirit of the guidance of our Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

The question, however, arises as to what the secret of success of the developed world is. How did these countries become so advanced and prosperous and grow in every aspect of social, economic, cultural and scientific life? There are, of course, several reasons.

In Bahrain, our wise leadership is making every effort to provide education for all through regular schools and universities but I honestly believe the Education Ministry is not doing enough to encourage outstanding students excel in universities outside Bahrain. The reason, perhaps, is the insufficient budget allocation for such students.

I feel the time has come to change this concept and allocate suitable funds for such projects in the interest of human development and scientific thought.

I am an ardent supporter of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince’s Scholarship Programme, a very successful and important initiative that has succeeded in creating an educated generation of those schooled at some of the world’s leading universities but, sadly, this one programme is not enough to take care of an ever-increasing number of students. I feel Bahrain’s civil society institutions should play a greater and pivotal role in this area.

I will not discuss here what many students, despite having outstanding grades, have gone through after being unable to get ministry support and have not been able to study abroad at their own expense.

We need to stand by these students, nurture their competencies and creative abilities, encourage and support them. I regret, however, that this issue has not been accorded the attention it deserves. The solution is right there, if only there is seriousness and desire.

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