8.5m Arab children ‘excluded’ from learning
Dubai, February 9, 2014
More than 8.5 million children remain excluded from education in the Arab world, many of them girls from poor, rural communities living in regions affected by conflict, said a report.
The report, ‘Arab Youth: Missing Educational Foundations for a Productive Life,’ published by the Brookings Institution highlighted challenges in the quality and availability of education across the Arab world and was accompanied by an interactive Arab World Learning Barometer.
It pointed out that more children were finishing primary school than ever before, yet in many countries more youth were dropping out of lower secondary school than a decade ago.
More than half of the region’s children and youth are failing to learn, as measured by literacy and numeracy scores on international tests, said the report.
The girls are performing better than boys overall and the average proportion of children not learning while in school stood at 56 per cent at primary level and 48 per cent at lower secondary level, it said.
Despite significant investment and better performance in education among girls, young adult women were much less likely to be employed than men, said the report.
Leading international education experts have gathered in Dubai to unveil this study at a launch event jointly hosted by the Brookings Institution, and leading learning company, Pearson.
It features the indicators examined by the Arab World Learning Barometer including the number of out-of-school children in the Arab region from 2000 to 2011; enrolment and progression rates of students through the school system; education quality; and the pervasive inequalities at a country level that affect levels of educational achievement.
Maysa Jalbout, one of the report’s authors, said: “The median age of the population in the Arab region is just 22 years, and this large youth population comprises more than 30 per cent of the population. Ensuring that this growing youth demographic has access to quality education that equips them with relevant skills for the work force will be central to ensuring the region’s continued economic and social development.
“Creating effective education systems across the Arab World will require a co-ordinated response from many different stakeholders. While education needs to be made more relevant to employment, education policies also need to be accompanied by initiatives that lead to economic growth and employment generation. We hope the Learning Barometer will help inform regional governments’ policy choices as they seek to address these challenges”.
Fadi Khalek, Pearson’s VP of Strategic Partnerships and Efficacy in the region, said: “There is certainly some good news in this report: education access in the Arab region has expanded significantly in the past several decades. More children than ever before are finishing primary school, with 3.1 million fewer children out of school than in 2002. This is in part to due to substantial investments in education.
“However, significant problems persist including high drop-out and repetition rates; low levels of education quality, learning and relevant skills acquisition; and entrenched inequities in education across particular groups.
“This report shows we simply lack the data to assess how well children are learning in the Arab World. All governments ought to commit to recording and sharing more data, so that we can really understand where the world’s biggest educational crises lie, and then find ways of resolving them.” - TradeArabia News Service