The Role of the University in Extension Education byMunir Bashshur (1982)
These are the proceedings of a colloquium held at the American University of Beirut in 1980. The papers presented discuss the problems faced by higher education in the Arab world, especially those of coping with an expanding number of students wishing to enter universities and colleges, and of preparing adequately for rapidly changing conditions in the Arab world. Looked at from the right perspective, extension education can solve many problems and help many people learn skills that they cannot get elsewhere. The special importance of extension education in meeting some of the demands of modern Arab societies cannot be overstressed; it represents a new dimension of bridging the gap between traditional universities and the technical/professional institutions.
About the Author
One of the veterans of the AUB faculty, Munir Bashshur, joined the University as professor of education in 1964 and, with single-minded purpose as to his professional future, has not looked back since. Right after completing his PhD in comparative education at the University of Chicago, he had married the American girl he had fallen in love with and together they immediately embarked for Beirut to begin their life there.
To Bashshur, AUB is home ("a great home," he says). Before going to the U.S. to pursue his postgraduate studies, he had earned both his BA in English literature and his MA in education at AUB. When he chose to write his doctoral dissertation on "The Role of Two Western Universities (the American University of Beirut and the St. Joseph University) in the National Life of Lebanon and the Middle East," it was as though a die had been cast – as though he was sure even then that he would return to AUB and that other academic studies of a similar nature would follow.
Century (Beirut: Nelson Publishers, 1995). In addition are the many papers he has written for publication or presented at conferences in Lebanon and abroad. He has just completed a study for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which will appear in its Second Arab Human Development Report in 2004 and is titled "Patterns of Education in Arab Countries and Their Contribution to Knowledge."
Bashshur's concern to help improve standards of education in the Arab world goes beyond writing on the subject. It has led to his ongoing engagement in a good number of development activities that have involved on-the-spot consultations with education officials in various countries throughout the region, as well as in Lebanon. To cite a few examples, he advised Saudi Arabia on revising its social studies curriculum; studied and evaluated educational conditions in Bahrain; assisted Dubai in establishing a school, including setting its procedures and curricula; and served for three years as a UNICEF consultant to Yemen on enhancing the education of girls in the country's rural areas.
In summing up the achievements of his life, Bashshur declares without hesitation and in this order: "The family I raised, the articles and books I wrote and the students I taught." Clearly, the world of Bashshur revolves around the two magnet planets of family and education. But he is still pulled by a few other interests that round out his life and make up his identity as an individual. They are literature, sociology and politics, as well as the gratifying pleasure of gardening and watching things grow and blossom.