Resilience through Hybridization: The Development of Higher Education in the Sultanate of Oman

Francesco Bigagli


This paper explores the challenges and opportunities that arise from the development of higher education in Oman in the wake of the knowledge economy. Firstly, it provides an overview of the country and its education system, with an emphasis on higher education. Secondly, drawing on Lyotard’s perspective on postmodernism and Readings’ critique of the postmodern University, it seeks to understand how the nature of knowledge has changed, and the implications of this transformation for higher education globally and Oman in particular. Through an analysis of the policies that regulate the provision of the tertiary sector in the Sultanate, the paper proposes to conceptualize the Omani “University” as an attempt to reconcile tradition with modernity. Both challenges and opportunities result from such a conceptualization, reflecting an underlying epistemic tension between the post-modern aspiration to align to the ubiquitous hegemony of the knowledge economy on the one hand, and the necessity of preserving deeply rooted traditional values as an expression of national self-knowledge on the other. The paper ultimately suggests that it is precisely by virtue of this constant binary tension that the Omani society as a whole, rather than in its individual components, might be able, through higher education as its main tool, to undergo change and respond to the imperatives of capital economy while retaining its cultural identity.  


Higher education, Oman, sociology of education, knowledge economy

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