Education has the potential to shape development in the Middle East and North Africa region, but a new approach to education is needed to prepare the region’s young people for the work market, according to a new report released by the World Bank.
According to the report, titled ‘Expectations and Aspirations: A new framework for Education in the Middle East,’ there are "key tensions" that are holding back education in the region; tensions between credentials and skills; discipline and inquiry; control and autonomy; and tradition and modernity.
The report maps out a strategy to tackle these tensions and unleash the power of education through “a concerted push for learning, a stronger pull for skills, and a new pact for education among all national stakeholders in support of education reforms.”
“The region needs to dramatically improve the quality of education. This will require a concerted effort to give teachers and schools the tools to equip students with fundamental skills while fostering inquisitive minds that are essential in an ever more challenging world,” said Jaime Saavedra, World Bank Senior Director for Education.
The report highlighted positive attempts in the region to improve the quality of education, such as the United Arab Emirates' commitment to universal preprimary enrollment by 2021, as well as reforms in Egypt, which is embarking on a system-wide transformation using technology to deliver, support, measure and manage learning and the professional development of teachers.
The report also added that reforming the education system must be accompanied by other sectoral reforms like civil service reforms, which are necessary because teachers are selected and recruited through the civil service function of governments. Labor market reforms are also important because labor market policies create incentives for employers to use open channels to identify skills.