Arab Ministers put quality of education in the spotlight
Education ministers as well as senior officials and experts are gathering in Doha, Qatar, on 21-22 September for a special meeting on steps to improve educational quality in the Arab region.
The co-organisers of the Ministerial Colloquium on Quality of Education in the Arab World are Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development; the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO); and The World Bank.
The host of the session is Saad Bin Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, Minister of Education and Higher Education of the State of Qatar.
Taking part in the two-day meeting are education ministers and delegates from 18 Arab states, as well as representatives of the three sponsoring organizations. Also present will be representatives of three specialist organizations – UNESCO, the Islamic Scientific Educational and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), and the League of Arab States. Presentations will be delivered by leading educational experts from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and The World Bank, as well as Poland and Mexico – two countries which have made strides in improving quality of education in recent years.
"Qatar Foundation is proud to be at the forefront of a pan-Arab effort to bring education across our region to the highest world standards. There is abundant evidence that educational attainment is the main differentiator in the prospects of both individuals and nations. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to ensure that their opportunities and quality of life meet international standards," said Dr. Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, Vice-President, Education, Qatar Foundation, Chairman of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), and one of the initiators of the project.
"Because quality of education is the driving force of social and economic progress, it was selected as one of 10 strategic priorities by the inaugural WISE Summit in Doha last November," Dr. Al-Thani continued. "WISE is an action-oriented initiative, and I am especially pleased that so many education ministers have come together to explore how we might turn our commitment into a practical framework for the Arab world."
"There are few matters of greater urgency for us than equipping rising generations for the challenges of the future," said Dr Mohammed Al-Aziz Ibn Ashour, Director General of ALECSO. "Our region has a fast-growing population and current economic infrastructure is inadequate to absorb the many millions of young people who will enter the labour market in the coming years and decades. We must give our young people the skills they need to compete in the current era of technological revolution and globalization. A sustained initiative to raise educational attainment levels will also help the Arab world make major contributions to world development and civilization."
ALECSO has been implementing an education development strategy throughout the Arab world, which aims to guarantee quality by improving the results of the educational process
International experience shows that progress on quality of education can be achieved relatively quickly," said Mr. Steen L. Jorgensen, Human Development Sector Director, World Bank – Middle East and North Africa Region. "The first step is commitment at the highest level; this is clearly shown by the participation in this Colloquium. Second, we must find ways to measure progress so that we can track our improvement over time and compare ourselves against others. Third, all this makes it possible to identify successful policies and to share best practices."
"Some six years ago Qatar launched a program to upgrade its K-12 education, and improvements are already perceptible," said H.E. Saad Bin Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, Minister of Education and Higher Education of the State of Qatar. "We know this because for several years we have taken part in international assessment mechanisms. I look forward to the creation of such a framework for the Arab world. I hope this will be one of the outcomes of this meeting, and that we are at the start of a process of historic significance for our region."
The states taking part in the Ministerial Colloquium on Quality of Education in the Arab World are: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, the Palestinian National Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.