President Sisi attends higher education global forum, ICESCO general conference in new capital

Ahram Online , Wednesday 8 Dec 2021

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi attended on Wednesday morning the second edition of the Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research that is gathering a number of international universities and organisations at the New Administrative Capital in Cairo.

A still photo of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi attending the second edition of the Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research at the New Administrative Capital, Egypt, on Wednesday

A number of countries from the Islamic world are participating in the forum.

On the sidelines of the forum, El-Sisi, also toured an exhibition that includes various pavilions for participants from various governmental, private, and international universities.

Technology companies specialised in education and scientific research as well as international organisations and funding bodies are also represented in the pavilions of the exhibition.

Five international universities are already operating in the New Administrative Capital, Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar said in an inspection tour at the exhibition with El-Sisi.

The recent drive to open international universities in Egypt has reduced the number of Egyptian students traveling abroad to study by around 50 percent during the first year, Abdel-Ghaffar added. He added that the state has launched more than 500 projects at a cost of over EGP 150 billion to develop public universities.

A number of ministers and key officials attended the forum, including Education Minister Tarek Shawki, Minister of Planning Hala El-Said, and Minister of Youth Ashraf Sobhy, Director General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) Salim bin Mohammad Al-Malik, Pope Tawadros II, the patriarch of the See of St Mark and leader of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, as well as the speakers of the Senate and the House of Representatives were among the attendees.

Renowned Egyptian-British cardiac surgeon Magdi Yacoub was seated beside El-Sisi.

Al-Malik, the director-general of the ICESCO, said during his speech that investment in human capital has become the most difficult development challenge nowadays, urging universities to play a bigger role in the field of scientific research and modern sciences.

Scientific research in ICESCO’s member states accounts for no more than 0.5 percent of their GDP, while expenditure on scientific research in other countries represents up to 3 percent of GDP, Al-Malik added.

“We hope to see a significant number of universities in member states confidently occupying an appropriate place among the most prestigious international universities,” Al-Malik said.

Today’s universities have to meet four conditions to keep up with the current developments, including working freely and independently and achieving sustainability in funding sources.

Universities also have to be able to qualify students for future jobs and build sustainable partnerships with large economic, industrial, and technological institutions locally and internationally, he added.

The forum will address a number of topics, most notably the future of work opportunities, qualifying students and young researchers for future jobs, and the needs of the local and global labour market, Rady said.

This comes in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the rapid changes in employment skills and demand on the labour market. The forum will further include a number of activities, such as meetings, seminars, workshops, discussions, and lectures by academic and professional experts as well as representatives of international organisations, businessmen, and youths.

Following the opening session of the forum, El-Sisi attended the first panel of the event titled ‘Future Job Challenges from a Scientific Perspective’ alongside ministers Abdel-Ghaffar and El-Said; ICESCO Director-General Al-Malik; and key figures, including Jeff Maggioncalda, the CEO of American online education provider Coursera.

General Conference of ICESCO

The forum “is being held this year in tandem with the 14th session of the General Conference of ICESCO under the auspices of the president and with the participation of 49 member states of the organisation,” Rady said.

Egypt is hosting the organisation’s general conference for the first time ever. 

Hosting the current editions of the forum and the general conference of ICESCO “enhances and deepens Egypt’s significance in the Islamic world and the world in general in the fields of education, sciences, and culture,” Abdel-Ghaffar said as he delivered the opening speech of the forum.

“This complies with the state’s general directives and efforts to achieve sustainable development within Egypt’s 2030 Vision. This also aligns with Egypt’s endeavours to maximise its investment revenues in the fields of higher education and scientific research, training, and renovation in light of the digital transformation revolution the world is witnessing.”

The Egyptian state seeks to adopt the principle of multilateral cooperation to achieve the goals of developing these fields through bilateral cooperation or regional and international organisations specialised in different fields, Abdel-Ghaffar added.

ICESCO’s general conference is held every four years in the presence of representatives from member states, including ministers of education and higher education. The conference is aimed at setting the general policies of the organisation and supervising its work.

The forum will run till Friday, while the General Conference of the ICESCO ends on Thursday.


ICESCO’s general conference is held every four years in the presence of representatives from member states, including the ministers of education and higher education. The conference aims to set the general policies of the organisation and supervise its work.

Delegation heads from member states will deliver speeches during the general conference to review their countries’ efforts in the fields of education, science, and culture, the ICESCO said.

In September, the Egyptian government vowed to secure all possible means to ensure the success of the general conference and the executive council session.

Founded in 1979, the Morocco-based ICESCO has been dedicated to promoting cooperation among Islamic states in science, education, culture, and communication.

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