Seventeen Arab states agreed today upon the urgent need to improve the quality of education across the region and implement a system of evaluating the performance of schools, teachers and students. Results are to be made public and shared among participating countries. These steps towards the improvement of education quality are formalized through the Doha Declaration on Education Quality in the Arab world.
The pledge came at the end of a two-day meeting of education ministers in the Qatari capital organized by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development; the World Bank and the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO); in coordination with the Supreme Education Council of Qatar. Developing the evaluation system will be entrusted to ALECSO, particularly their Arab Educational Observatory.International assessments, as presented to the ministers during the Colloquium, suggest that young people in the Arab world currently leave school with levels of numeracy and literacy below the global average, and with a lesser command of the skills increasingly sought by employers, such as the ability to analyze complex information, think critically and communicate effectively.
In response to these issues, the Doha Declaration states that high-quality education should equip students to become active citizens in their communities. Restructured national education systems should be “characterized by autonomy, accountability, and clear and transparent education policies” and encourage broad community participation. The declaration commits the signatories to continuous collection of data in order to enable transparent evaluation and assessment, and the spread of best practices.
“We all know that our best asset is our people, but this wealth will only be realized through judicious investment,” said H.E. 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.
“Education has been the first pillar of Qatar Foundation’s human development mission for the past 15 years. Therefore, I’m very pleased that it is now being placed at the forefront of the regional agenda,” Dr. Al-Thani said.
“The capacity of countries in the Arab world to compete in the global economy depends on their being able to meet the rapidly escalating demand for high-level skills,” said H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al-Aziz Ibn Ashour, Director General of ALECSO. “Quality of education has a positive impact on the lives of individuals and on national economic growth, and by sharing information and best practices, we all stand to gain.”
“The Arab world has made great strides in getting children into school,’’ said Shamshad Akhtar, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region. “And now there is a new set of challenges. As school systems reach maximum levels of participation, concerns about quality multiply.”
“Today’s commitment to consistently collect data will enable authorities to use that data to drive quality improvements and share information not just among governments and educators, but with families and employers also. Success stories can be shared across the region and inspire others by example,” said Akhtar.
“My fellow ministers and I frequently share our experiences in upgrading our education systems,” said H.E. Saad bin Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, Minister of Education and Higher Education of the State of Qatar and host of the Ministerial Colloquium. “Now we shall be working within a structure which will bring about a more productive learning process. I am grateful to all of my ministerial colleagues, to the three co-organizers, and to the organizations and experts who have taken part in this event, and I look forward to continuing fruitful cooperation.” His Excellency added, “Despite the educational mobility witnessed by the Arab world through our various initiatives, we are still working to meet the aspirations of our societies and global academic standards.”
The states taking part in the Ministerial Colloquium on Quality of Education in the Arab World were: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, the Palestinian National Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.