Middle East and North Africa
It’s that time of year again. Some weeks ago, more than two million Tunisian primary, junior high, and high school students headed back to school, just as hundreds of millions of children in northern countries.
“What can we do today to prepare students for the labor force in 20 years?” the director general of Israel’s Ministry of Finance, Shai Babad, asked. At an Annual Meetings event last Friday, Babad was asked for his thoughts about successful government policies to enable start-up ecosystems. However, he answered the question with one of the many questions that policymakers continue to wrestle with in the new digital economy.
In recent years, many of the World Bank Group’s country partners have posed similar questions. As Trade & Competitiveness Director Klaus Tilmes commented, “Many clients are now less interested in our money, and more in our knowledge around best practices and effective incubator models. They’re asking ‘How can we create our own start-up ecosystems?’ So we are trying to become more systematic and leverage tools to expand our programs and build them into our lending projects.”
No state is more renowned for its success in building such ecosystems than Israel. The small country contains the highest number of start-ups outside of Silicon Valley and receives the most VC investment per capita. With a population of only 8 million, Israel has over 6,000 start-ups, and 1,000 new start-ups are launched every year. In 2016 alone, Israeli start-ups raised over $4.8 billion.
Every year, Iranian schools and universities are in back in session on the first day of autumn—September 23rd. Despite educating some of the world’s top minds, such as the late Maryam Mirzakhani, the only women recipient of the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics, Iran’s educational system has been in crisis. In this short space, I want to focus on the crisis Iran’s higher education system has been facing, which has taken a turn for worse in the past decade.
The Lycée Eucalyptus, a high school in Nice, France, sits close to the airport, surrounded to the west and north by a resolutely working-class neighborhood and by a more middle-class area to the east. The school has a heterogeneous group of students who stay for the most part to themselves. So, for a working relationship to form between Marwan, 12, a Syrian refugee, who has only been in France a few months and speaks little French, and Charlotte, 17, the captain of the girls’ tennis team, is quite remarkable.
This is the second part of our interview with with Safaa El Tayeb El-Kogali, World Bank Practice Manager in the Education Global Practice, on the challenges faced by the region’s education systems and the efforts to address them.
On the heels of the first World Development Report focused entirely on education, and its critical importance for stable and inclusive societies, we launch our annual ‘Back to School’ series that focuses on the state of education in the Middle East and North Africa region. We begin the series with a two-part interview with Safaa El Tayeb El-Kogali, World Bank Practice Manager in the Education Global Practice, on the challenges faced by the region’s education systems and the efforts to address them.