Science and Education in the Arabic World – Nada Ladraa (Italy, Morocco) and Juliana Bastos (Brazil)

ibs

Science is a field that is constantly changing; what students learn nowadays at school is not what their parents learned and it will not be what their children learn. This constant change is responsible for creating a growing wish for innovation and the increasing curiosity of people who are to gain this knowledge. Being educated in science helps students get to know more about themselves and others, as well as about nature and the universe; it helps children become informed citizens who know, at least a little bit, about the relevant issues of daily life. This knowledge is not only important for the students who aim to pursue a career in a scientific field, but also for the ones interested in understanding how things work and why. The curiosity caused by the study of science develops one’s ability to understand our world, and offers a vast understanding of a variety of issues. It makes our children informed citizens of the world, and it increases people’s concern for global issues.

I Believe in Science (IBiS) is a project with the aim of bringing scientific knowledge to the Arab region. Founded in late 2011 by activists, IBiS is now followed by thousands of people on its Facebook page. With a well-designed website, an app, it is credited as a trustful source of scientific information by its readers. The initiative is responsible for promoting science in a region forgotten by the scientific community. Due to preconceptions regarding the world of scientific thought, some religious people believe that IBiS promotes atheism, which we know is not the case after an interview with the CEO. I Believe in Science is not promoting atheism and it does not have any religious affiliation or stance, with their work consisting solely of spreading the latest scientific news in Arab regions.

What makes I Believe in Science very special is that it publishes in Arabic. The founder and current CEO, Ahmed AlRais, started thinking about such a project many years ago because he was interested in science, but he also noticed that vast majority of available articles were in English. He started discussing this issue with some friends and in late 2011, they ended up launching I Believe in Science; now he cannot think of a life without IBiS.

But how does IBiS work? Basically, the writers follow the main credible scientific sources and select the most interesting articles to then translate into Arabic.

However, IBiS is facing some difficulties, one in particular being the lack of funding, as the website is self-funded. In addition, there is a lack of scientific knowledge within the Arabic audience. IBiS writers also receive death threats due to radicalism and extreme religious ideologies that consider knowledge to be a threat that needs to be exterminated.

Despite the difficulties IBiS faces, it is still at work, aiming to accomplish its goals of surpassing the linguistic and educational barriers, and as a result, giving Arabic individuals the opportunity to be informed about the latest scientific and technological discoveries and developments. They are working hard, running a website and five Facebook pages.

We interviewed some of IBiS’s fans to see how the initiative is seen by its followers. As expected, all of the interviewees communicated their trust in IBiS’s information and work. They also displayed their belief that the initiative has the power to reach other areas in the world and influence them as well.  But why is this project so important?

I Believe in Science brings scientific information to people who would otherwise not have access to it. Science is around us every day of our lives. We may not realize it but this knowledge can change people’s realities and this is IBiS’s role in the Arab region; to bring their audience such vital information that can make a real change in the world.  Science allows us to understand how things work, but also how to make things happen.

Ouassana from a Moroccan student of Geology, and Simon, Scottish but with a Syrian background, both of whom being followers of IBiS, agreed to answer some questions for us.

“And what about religion? Is it true that you cannot believe in science if you are Muslim?”, we asked them. They are both agnostic but they don’t believe that this is true. Even if many people think believing in theories such as the Theory of Evolution, cannot coexist with their religion, there are Muslims who believe in Islam as well as in the Theory of Evolution.

What made them follow this website was that IBiS does not have a political background, a rare characteristic in Arabic websites due to the kind of societies that exist in Arab countries. In particular, Oussana says it ignited in her a hope for a better future for Arabic people. And as Simon said, science surprises us every day and has proved its worth.

If you speak Arabic and are interested in science-related topics visit their website: www.ibelieveinsci.com.

2 responses to “Science and Education in the Arabic World – Nada Ladraa (Italy, Morocco) and Juliana Bastos (Brazil)

  1. “IBiS writers also receive death threats due to radicalism and extreme religious ideologies that consider knowledge to be a threat that needs to be exterminated.”
    Wow. I’m not even sure how to react to that…

    This article complements quite nicely the one recently published about the madrasas as it shows the contrast of some people trying to learn more about science while some families choose to put their kids in schools where the only thing they’ll study is religion.
    It’s really sad to see that in 2015 there still are countries where indoctrinating children is more important than teaching math, science (and the other things we learn at school).
    Itand that the few people that still get interested in learning science have such a hard time to do so.

    Like

    • (I accidently sent the comment before i could edit that last sentence and I’m not sure how to edit it so just to be clear, that last sentence should be:

      It’s also really sad that the few people that still get interested in learning science have such a hard time to do so.

      )

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s