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Middle East and North Africa

Resilience, refugees, and education for change

Harry A. Patrinos's picture


As the world struggles to cope with the stream of refugees coming out of Syria, there is an urgent need to advance education opportunities. This is not to just thwart radicalization, as United Nations special envoy for global education Gordon Brown argues, but to ensure that we invest in building refugee children’s human capital.

Enseignement supérieur : l’obsession des classements

Francisco Marmolejo's picture
Also available in: English
Les élèves préparent un examen dans une bibliothèque. Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank

Les classements des universités font désormais incontestablement partie du paysage de l’enseignement supérieur, aussi bien au niveau mondial qu’à l’échelon local. Ils occupent dans ce paysage une place de plus en plus importante et ont connu une prolifération phénoménale. Depuis que cette activité est devenue commerciale, les entreprises et organisations qui classent les universités ont gagné en sophistication. Et c’est dorénavant un fait acquis : ces palmarès influencent considérablement l’opinion des étudiants (actuels et à venir), des parents, des employeurs et des pouvoirs publics sur la qualité des établissements supérieurs.

Are we obsessed with university rankings?

Francisco Marmolejo's picture
Also available in: Français
Students prepare for an exam in a library. Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank


It is beyond doubt that rankings have become a significant part of the tertiary education landscape, both globally and locally.

In this landscape, rankings have risen in importance and proliferated in unimaginable ways. It’s become commercialized and, with it, so has the sophistication of companies and organizations that rank colleges and universities. Undoubtedly, rankings now play such a big role in shaping the opinions of current and potential students, parents, employers, and government about the quality of tertiary education institutions.

¿Estamos obsesionados con los rankings de universidades?

Francisco Marmolejo's picture
Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank


No hay duda que los rankings se han convertido en una parte significativa del panorama de la educación superior en los ámbitos local y global. En este escenario, los rankings han crecido en importancia y han proliferado de maneras inimaginables toda vez que la comercialización de los mismos ha llevado a un alto grado de sofisticación de las compañías y organizaciones que se dedican a su elaboración y difusión. Hoy en día es evidente que los rankings juegan un papel no menor en contribuir a formar opiniones de los actuales y futuros estudiantes, padres de familia, empleadores y gobierno, en torno a la calidad de las instituciones de educación superior.

Education is the key to integrating refugees in Europe

Christian Bodewig's picture
Syrian refugee students listen to their school teacher during math classes. 
Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank


​In Europe, the year 2015 will be remembered as the year of the “refugee crisis.” Hundreds of thousands of refugees have crossed treacherous waters and borders to flee war and persecution in Syria and the wider Middle East and Africa in search of protection in the European Union. Transit and destination countries have been struggling to manage the refugee flow and to register and shelter the new arrivals. At the same time, the EU is debating how best to tackle the sources of forced displacement and is stepping up support to Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, who host the lion’s share of Syrian refugees. But largely missing from the frenetic activity so far, except in Germany, has been a thorough discussion of the next step: how to manage the integration of refugees in host countries beyond the initial humanitarian response of shelter and food.

Higher education: returns are high but we need to fund it better

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
University students at a laboratory.

Photo: Nafise Motlaq / World Bank


This week I was invited to speak at The Economist’s Higher Education Forum in New York to share my thoughts on how higher education can be expanded. I believe that we need a fair and sustainable cost-recovery model at the university level using future earnings to finance current education.

Over the past two decades, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of university students and graduates worldwide, which should have led to decrease in the rate of return to investment to higher education – if supply outpaced demand, of course.  While there has been some decrease in overall rates of return, investment in education is still a highly profitable investment.  Global demand for high levels skills such as working with new information and problem-solving has kept the returns to schooling high in even the poorest countries of the world. In fact, the returns to higher education are higher in lower-income countries – except in the Middle East and North Africa due to rigid labor market regulations.

Too many children in the Middle East and North Africa left behind

Claudia Costin's picture


For a region that is considered middle-income, it is unacceptable that one in every 40 children in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) dies in the first year of life mostly from preventable causes. Neither does it makes sense that one fifth of its youngest population is stunted from malnutrition, and more than half are missing out on critical micronutrients such as iodine in salt, which impairs cognitive development. Moreover, with only 27 percent of children ages 3-5 enrolled in pre-school, almost half the world average, three quarters of children in the region are missing the opportunity to build the foundations for school readiness, and to acquire the skills they will need to lead a happy, autonomous, and healthy life.
 
What are the implications of these alarming trends?

EdStats: Big Data, Better Policies, Learning for All

Husein Abdul-Hamid's picture



Are we effective in presenting education data to help tackle the real issues that developing countries are facing? The education community continues to be puzzled by two realities: (1) crucial data is often not available and (2) available data is often hard to digest.

Should developing countries shift from focusing on improving schools to improving parents?

Emiliana Vegas's picture

I travel to many developing countries in the context of my work for The World Bank. I visit schools that receive financial support and technical assistance from the Bank to improve the learning experiences and outcomes of students. Each time, I ask teachers in these schools what they think would make the biggest difference in the learning outcomes of their students. The most common answer is “better parents.” I often wonder if this response is, in some conscious or unconscious way, an excuse to help teachers explain the poor outcomes of their students (especially those from the poorest households) and their low expectations of what their students can achieve. However, both common sense and solid research indicate that parents matter.

What Learning for All Means for the Middle East and North Africa

Mourad Ezzine's picture

The call for ‘Learning for All’ in the Education Strategy 2020 is particularly appropriate for the Middle East and North Africa region, where education quality has been a major concern for more than a decade.

Even if the Arab world has made considerable progress in improving many aspects of education in recent decades, the quality of that education is still far from satisfactory: slightly more than 50% of Arab students who participated in TIMMS 2007 ranked below the “low” mark in mathematics, and employers complain that schools are not producing consistently well-trained graduates, endowed with the knowledge and skills they require.

The challenge becomes even more acute when demographic evidence is considered: school age populations (0-24 years) in the Arab world will grow by about 2 million by 2015 but will surge by 10 more million between 2015 and 2030. If these large cohorts are well served by good quality education, this could be an unprecedented window of opportunity; if neglected, the promise that education should be making to the young will continue to be broken.  This leaves about five years to address this question.

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