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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.

How the Private Sector Can Help Achieve Learning for All

Svava Bjarnason's picture

The World Bank Group’s new Education Strategy 2020 champions learning for all and recognizes that global progress towards this goal will require the commitment of all actors – including governments, communities and private entities. The strategy acknowledges the vital role the private sector can play in helping expand and improve educational opportunity. Private sector participation in education is a growing part of education systems and has helped make significant educational advancements possible in many countries.

How can we leverage the valuable contributions of the private sector to help realize the goal of Learning for All?

Education for Employment: Realizing Arab Youth Potential

Svava Bjarnason's picture

The headlines are sobering:
• The Arab World has 25% youth unemployment – the highest in the world – and female youth unemployment is even higher reaching over 30%
• The economic loss of youth unemployment costs US$40 to $50 billion annually – equivalent to the GDP of countries like Tunisia or Lebanon
• One third of the population in the region is below the age of 15 – a further third is aged 15 to 29.
• Two thirds of young people surveyed believe they do not have the skills required to get a good job

It is widely held that the revolutions taking place across the Middle East have been fuelled by a generation of youth who are over-educated or poorly-educated and unemployed.  Education for Employment (e4e) is an initiative that seeks to ‘realize Arab youth potential’ by providing education opportunities that focus on employability. The World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Islamic Development Bank commissioned research for 22 countries across the Arab World with ‘deep dive’ research undertaken in 9 countries.  The report found that demand for e4e solutions is substantial and yet supply is nascent.  It also identified that critical enablers are missing, such as quality and standard setting, funding mechanisms, internship opportunities and information for young people on the value of different types of education.