A drive by the U.K. government costing 45 million pounds to connect every British school to the Internet was launched a few days ago in London. Educational material, services, support and advice will be offered.
To assist the government in this project, various companies have contributed about 2 million pounds to train school children in the use of the World Wide Web (WWW) and to train teachers how to use the Internet for both teaching and learning.
The prime minister, Tony Blair has himself taken the lead and set up a Web site for No. 10 Downing Street. "Technology has revolutionized the way we work and is now set to transform education," he said, adding "Children cannot be effective in tomorrow's world if they are trained in yesterday's skills. Nor should teachers be denied the tools that other professionals take for granted."
The network known as the National Grid for Learning will link Britain's 33,000 schools, 500 colleges, 360 other educational institutions, and 4,500 public libraries. A charity will be established to raise 10 million pounds and to connect 10,000 of the 26,000 schools not already on the Internet.
When I read this, I was pleased. As a long-time advocate of the Internet, I am happy when I read about access being given to children. In fact I am pushing all the children in my family and the children of friends and relatives to teach them computer skills so that they are ready for the Internet.
I believe that no one can fight the advance of technology. No power can stop the avalanche of knowledge and information that will be available to us as a result of progress.
No number of bureaucratic hurdles will keep the young of the 21st century from the world of data, statistics, facts and information. It will be a world of pro-choice. Let us get our children ready for that world, not forgetting that they must also be taught to utilize properly what is so easily available.
The fragile ecosystem of the Arabian Gulf has reached a stage calling for efforts to protect the fishing resources of the region. The area around the Gulf is rich in marine life; however, the last few years have seen fishing grounds being threatened by an increase in marine traffic.
We need to approach this subject carefully and research into all factors related to the marine resources of the Gulf. We must deal with oil pollution, the need to protect fish breeding grounds and prevent over-fishing, the need for more Gulf nationals to enter the fishing business and also to identify what technologies are suitable for the shallow waters of the Gulf.
The development of coastal and island fisheries must also be included in this study.
Oil pollution and the increasing salinity of the Gulf waters are major problems which ought to be tackled by joint efforts of all Gulf nations. The GCC should shoulder this responsibility as early as possible.
It is well known that ships discharging waste into the Gulf every day are the biggest single threat apart from oil-spillage accidents. The toughest penalties have to be imposed on ships which destroy the Gulf's ecosystem and also the region's marine resources. This is the only way we can protect our waters and our shores.
Some time ago, during an evening walk with a friend of mine, we were discussing our holidays abroad when we used to take similar long walks.
"Only then it was quieter", said my friend. He was referring to the unnecessary use of horns by drivers. It seems the whole Arab world suffers from noise pollution. Is it because we love to blow the horn? I don't know, I replied. Maybe we are just more impatient.
And while we are on the subject: what about the absence of civic responsibility among us? My friend pointed to an empty garbage bin. A meter away were the remains of food and drink, consumed by a family getting ready to leave. The garbage of course was left on the ground. No need to upset yourself. This happens all the time. You will often find trash and garbage thrown in the street next to garbage bins. My friend was getting more and more excited.
What about people building houses who block the street with their building materials? And blaring radios and recorders? I added. We were in a competition to come up with examples of a lack of civic responsibility, a lack of consideration for other people. All very sad but all - alas! - very true.
I have reached the conclusion that red traffic lights are meant to be disregarded. Despite deterrents and warnings by the traffic police, we find breaking traffic rules is on the increase, especially among the educated people. My friend interrupted: "Education is relative. It has no meaning at all if there is no civic sense or self-respect."
"You are right", I agreed, just as a shiny black car with five young boys swept pass us and an empty can was out of the window.
It is better to buy a jogging machine, my friend suggested. No, I thought, but why is a sense of civic responsibility not being taught?