A STRONG partnership in education is crucial for any country to make human and economic development possible, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.
By making education a priority, Muslim countries could unlock new opportunities for their people, new human resources for businesses and new growth for their nations, the Prime Minister said in his address at the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in Dubai, where he stressed on the importance of literacy.
“We should unite behind a call to ‘use all means available’ to ensure our people can read, write and contribute to national economic and social development,” he told the delegates yesterday.
Najib said that although Muslims had led the world of learning for centuries, the community did not turn the notable successes into a lasting legacy.
“Today, too few Muslims are able to read or write, with illiteracy rates in some Muslim countries reaching 40% for men and higher for women at 65%,” he said.
“Our tradition of pioneering science did not produce a generation of modern scientific leaders.
“We have the oldest universities but few of the world’s best.
“The end result is too many Muslims are missing out on opportunities and too many Muslim nations are missing their greatest assets, that is, their people,” said Najib.
He added that by prioritising education throughout life, countries could realise the potential of their people, reduce poverty, raise living standards and unlock 21st century growth.
“We need innovative partnerships between educators, governments and private and third sectors to make good the gap,” he said.
Najib later told a press conference that WIEF wanted non-Muslim countries to participate in the forum.
He added that last year’s edition in London saw the City of London’s keen participation as they saw the value of WIEF.
“WIEF has become a platform that encourages the Muslim world to engage and strengthen its relationship with the wider world,” he said.
Najib also called on the forging of partnership in Islamic economy and finance between Malaysia and Dubai, adding that the cooperation would benefit the two parties rather than if they were to compete.
Malaysia has set its sights on becoming the centre for Islamic finance while Dubai is promoting itself as the hub for Islamic economy.