Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

An Alarming Report | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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It is no longer a “novelty” nor does it come as a surprise when we are reminded that education is one of the most critical aspects for the development of states and that it is the most crucial indicator of progress and success. Nations and their people have been assessed and evaluated in accordance with the success, efficacy and performance of their education systems.

Recently, a neutral and independent report was issued by Mackenzie and Associates in which the prominent organization conducted a survey on education in the Arab world and compared it to other states in terms of status and conditions. In truth, the figures that were presented in the report are alarming and foreshadow a huge disaster.

According to the report, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisian, Egypt, Bahrain, Palestine, Morocco and Saudi Arabia rank low in comparison to other states worldwide, and are moreover significantly below the international average when it comes to subjects such as mathematics and science.

The same report also reveals that children in the eighth grade (employed as a benchmark general average) in the Arab world failed to demonstrate that they had any competent skills in mathematics. Also, the grave discrepancy between the performance of males and females in education was highlighted, in addition to the frailty of the educational institutions that offer technical and vocational training.

The Mackenzie and Associates report also showed how the absence of public colleges with a two-year educational program has led to the creation of an inverted pyramid that is confined to traditional schools and universities. The other shocking statistic, which inevitably reflects the sad reality of the current status of vocational education, is that only 12 percent of the graduates of these institutions join the labor market.

It was also revealed that the English language and problem solving were the most significant obstacles confronting graduates of technical institutions. Furthermore, the report features vital statistics related to the conditions of university education, warning that only 4 percent of university students are expected to complete their education and obtain a university degree. It also came to light that graduates lack essential skills needed for the labor market.

The Mackenzie and Associates report should be seriously considered and taken into account since it sheds light on the impoverished state of Arab education and supports it by new irrefutable evidence, stating that the solutions offered thus far are insufficient. The flagrant state of denial and the weak defense of the “glory” of education and its achievements in the Arab world must now be regarded with skepticism and concern.

It has become blatantly clear that there is a “hindrance” that obstructs further development and educational reform and which moreover assumes that defending the present status quo of education and maintaining it is part of preserving the identity and its idiosyncrasies, along with the predetermined aspects.

To this day, education is not afforded the same status or strategic importance as the security and defense sectors, for example. Education, if advanced, may be deemed the first line of defense against the delusions of extremism, terrorism, unemployment and crime.

A report conducted by international experts should not be the evidence we need to identify the deteriorating conditions and status quo of education in the Arab world; however detailed figures and data clearly reveal that the situation is grave and requires developing the tools and methods of education before the problem becomes worse.

This is a warning that cannot be overlooked.