Saturday, October 17, 2009

Arab education lag "alarming"

The Economist
Arab countries now spend as much or more on education, as a share of GDP, than the world average. They have made great strides in eradicating illiteracy, boosting university enrolment and reducing gaps in education between the sexes.

But the gap in the quality of education between Arabs and other people at a similar level of development is still frightening. It is one reason why Arab countries suffer unusually high rates of youth unemployment. According to a recent study by a team of Egyptian economists, the lack of skills in the workforce largely explains why a decade of fast economic growth has failed to lift more people out of poverty.

The most rigorous comparative study of education systems, a survey called Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) that comes out every four years, revealed in its latest report, in 2007, that out of 48 countries tested, all 12 participating Arab countries fell below the average. More disturbingly, less than 1% of students aged 12-13 in ten Arab countries reached an advanced benchmark in science, compared with 32% in Singapore and 10% in the United States. Only one Arab country, Jordan, scored above the international average, with 5% of its 13-year-olds reaching the advanced category.

Other comparative measures are equally alarming. A listing of the world’s top 500 universities, compiled annually by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, includes three South African and six Israeli universities, but not a single Arab one. The Swiss-based World Economic Forum ranks Egypt a modest 70th out of 133 countries in competitiveness, but in terms of the quality of its primary education system and its mathematics-and-science teaching, it slumps to 124th. Libya, despite an income of $16,000 a head, ranks an even more dismal 128th in the quality of its higher education, lower than dirt-poor Burkina Faso, with an average income of $577.
There are some universities in the UAE that have the potential to break into the world's top 500. Which ones are your picks?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

University of Sharjah

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me... I meant American University of Sharjah

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The universities are only as good as the students who are accepted into them.. which takes you back to high school and primary school education. As it stands, the product of the schools in the UAE (aside from a select few ultra-expensive private schools) is dismal. This translates to crap at the university level, no matter of how fancy the buildings are or the curriculum.

AUS does have a reputation of being decent, but I would hardly have it compete with the world's top 500. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

There's a good reason why my parents made sure that we receive our higher education as far away from the Middle East as possible. Judging from the output of these universities today.. I can see why they did what they did.

Top 500? I hope that was an attempt at a joke from your part. Of all people, you know the state of higher education in the UAE better than most. Do you really believe the UAE has what it takes to break into the top 1000?

Who are you pandering to?

4:10 PM  
Anonymous said...

Really effective info, lots of thanks for the article.

11:11 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home