Education vs. schooling: Half of Arab children and youth 'failing to learn'
Around 8.5 million children in Arab countries remain excluded from getting a proper education, according to a report by Brookings Institution.
More than half of the region’s children and youth are failing to learn, with around 56 per cent of primary school children not learning and 48 per cent of children in lower secondary school.
Though girls in the Arab region were less likely to enter schools than boys, they were found to have a higher transition rate from primary to secondary school.
The report also highlighted that girls tend to outperform boys in terms of learning. But despite significant investment in education and better performance, young adult women were less likely to be employed than men.
“Creating effective education systems across the Arab world will require a coordinated response from many different stakeholders,” said Maysa Jalbout, one of the authors of the report.
“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.”
The findings are part of the Arab World Learning Barometer, which include 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 and education quality and inequalities at a country level that affect levels of educational achievement.
According to Jalbout, youth makes up more than 30 per cent of the demographic in Arab countries. She emphasised that access to quality education will be central to social and economic development in the future.
However, the report also highlighted a number of improvements in the region’s education sector.
“Education access in the Arab region has expanded significantly in the past several decades,” said Fadi Khalek, Pearson’s vice president of strategic partnerships and efficacy.
“More children than ever before are finishing primary school, with 3.1 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,” he added.