The value of the endowment or waqf is increasing for education and health in various countries of the world. This is because these two sectors are particularly important for the people. Therefore, our ancestors dedicated lots of properties as waqf for education. The west realised the importance of education centuries ago and dedicated endowments particularly for universities, colleges, and scientific education, due to their role in serving humanity.
Now, we are at a crossroads. We must develop interest in the educational endowments at all government and civil society levels. The waqf is vital for overcoming many economic and financial challenges being faced by the countries and individuals, particularly by those who have limited income and depend on social security. There are also many other such segments in the society which fulfil their educational needs through scholarships and grants. This is the situation where there is dire need for awareness about waqf in universities and colleges. Waqfs or endowments should be introduced for several types of education particularly for higher education. People should be made aware of the role of waqf in the area. Proposals should keep coming about the dedication of properties and assets as waqf for education. There should be certain shares which are dedicated for the purpose, under the patronage of the Ministry of Awqaf (endowments) and Religious Affairs and that of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. They should do such experiments as a contribution to academic institutions.
There is no doubt that the educational waqf is the key to the educational development and scientific research and application. These are the areas which sometimes get obstructed due to the lack of financial liquidity and deficiency in scholarships and educational grants. In such cases, students find themselves in a dilemma. Same is the case with universities and colleges. They do not have any alternative as financial resources for these students.
The universities and colleges should set up waqf departments in coordination with the ministries of Awqaf and Religious Affairs and Higher Education, Research and Innovation to create awareness about educational endowments and its role in educational, academic and scientific development. Teams of experts should manage these educational endowments.
There are international models and experiences available for educational endowments with 90 per cent success rate. In American universities, there are endowment funds for higher education worth 119 billion dollars. There are ten largest university endowments with collected assets estimated at 224 billion dollars. There are some educational institutions' endowments which are more than the budgets of countries. Harvard University has endowments worth $39 billion. The University of Texas has endowments worth $30.9 billion. Similarly, the endowments of Yale University are worth $30.3. Stanford University has a $27.7 billion endowment.
At the local level, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation set up 'Siraj’ waqf foundation to manage and support educational endowments in the Sultanate of Oman. In a forum on the role of waqf in supporting education held on October 23, 2019, the announcement about setting up of ‘Siraj’ was made. The objective of this foundation was to help education and find resources which could sustain educational development and support the students who need various types of educational grants and scholarships through endowments.
But at the same time, we need waqf or endowments sections in every educational institution to collect such support from the society, manage and run them. Every educational institution should have their own waqf section, as they have their own specialisations and characteristics and need endowments to be utilised accordingly.
However, the Siraj Foundation should remain the reference and supervisory authority for educational endowment institutions in cooperation with the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs to make it grow and get strength further.
The economic and financial situation we are facing requires us to create awareness in society. People should know several types of awqaf, their objectives and the role each of them can play in the service of the country and its people.