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The Muslim world's past contributions to science and education were extraordinary. The Islamic "golden age" – during which scholarship and learning flourished across the Muslim world – lasted many centuries, and included the establishment of the world's first universities. While there are no international standardized tests in science and math at the university level, fourth-, eighth-, and tenth-grade students in the Muslim world test below the global average in these subjects, according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Program for International Student Assessment.The number of people working in science fields in the Muslim world is also well below the global average.Eighteen months ago, a nongovernmental, nonpartisan task force of international experts – convened by the Muslim World Science Initiative and the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology, and coordinated by me – set out to explore the sorry state of science in the Muslim world and determine how universities could help to improve the situation. Nidhal Guessoum is a professor of physics and astronomy at the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. He coordinated a task force on science at universities in the Muslim world.
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