Friday, February 08, 2008

Another damning report on poor Arab education standards

Well, this is not exactly a shocker, but there is a new World Bank report out bemoaning the declining standards of education in the Arab world.
In its report, the World Bank issued a stark warning about the need for better education in the Arab world.

It said that although education was becoming more accessible and the gender gap was being reduced, the region had not witnessed the positive changes seen in Asia and Latin America, particularly in literacy rates and enrolments in secondary schools and universities.

And this is where the unemployment timebomb kicks in:

Mr Muasher said educational reform went hand in hand with economic development, especially given the region's extremely high youth population.

"It's a very youthful region - 60% of the region's population is under 30 years of age, close to 100m new jobs will need to be created over the next 10 to 15 years in the Arab world," he explained.

And for an idea of the level of illiteracy rate in Middle East:

Another study carried out in January by the Tunis-based Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organisation found that 30% of the approximately 300 million people in the Arab World were illiterate.

Actually, this is better than what I had expected. For example, Pakistan's literacy rate is around 50% in a population of 170 million. Yikes!!! And this is a very generous estimate - literacy is counted as the ability to write one's own name.

Read the full story here. You can also download pdf of the World Bank report (with a lively title): The road not traveled - Education reform in the Middle East and North Africa.