Muscat, Sept 19 - Dr Muneer bin Mohammed al Maskari is widely considered a pioneer of private colleges in Oman after he established the first institution in higher education in 1996 outside the government realm.
When the curtain was lifted 21 years ago that would break the government’s monopoly as the sole owners of colleges and universities, Dr Al Maskari turned his vision to reality when he established Modern College of Business and Science (MCBS). Before establishing the college, he was a consultant helping to establish Majan College.
To be the first in an uncharted territory was a daunting task and he faced many challenges simply because there were no parallels to tap on the experience of his predecessors.
Looking back at more than two decades, Dr Al Maskari now says he was simply responding to the call of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos that urged the private sector to take a bigger role in higher education.
“The opportunity was laid down by His Majesty and I was simply following the royal orders to take higher education a step forward. I don’t see myself as a pioneer but as a man who has taken the task of private higher education to a new level. I also would not have done it without the support of the Ministry of Higher Education with its advice and academic guidance,” Dr Al Maskari told the Observer in an exclusive interview.
Al Maskari, who had a Bachelor Degree in Business, went on to study Master Degree in Management before acquiring a Phd in Political Science. He also served as under-secretary of vocational training and was later appointed as a member of State Consultative Council. As the founder of the college, he is currently serving as the Executive Chairman of MCBS.
MCBS may be the first private college to be established in Oman but he feels strongly about empowering young people to help the economy of the country.
“Many of my colleagues in private higher education are doing a great job in empowering young people with the right specialisation. We share the same responsibility and the same goals and targets. We work together to prepare a young intelligent generation for the development of the country,” Dr Al Maskari explained.
He acknowledges that education is different now the way it was in his days as a student. The curriculums need to be constantly developed and improved to match the new demands at workplaces.
“If the role of a student has taken a different turn, we as educators need to align ourselves to change our methodology of teaching to fit what the employers need. Again, I must emphasise, this is not just the way I see it at MCBS, but it must be the way for all degrees granted in all higher education institutions in Oman. We don’t compete but work together to help business and industry communities employ well- prepared graduates needed for the progress of Oman,” Dr Al Maskari said.
He also feels strongly to close the gap between the higher education and the industry. Education providers must welcome the advice of the industries and pay attention to the latest changes that would help shape the careers of graduates.
“I see it as a vital partnership between the two. Very often educators are oblivious to what is happening at workplaces or how the industries innovate. If graduates don’t get jobs, it does not mean there are no jobs available. It is because colleges and universities have failed to keep track with the vacancies available with the companies. We must remember career-shaping starts with us educators. We serve employers and not simply producing graduates,” Al Maskari added.
He said the most successful education institution is the one whose graduates are readily taken by employers.
“It reflects on the institution if its graduates are unemployable,” Dr Al Maskari concluded.
Saleh Al Shaibany