Feb 12

Past Event

Education, Unemployment and Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa: Insights from the Arab World Learning Barometer



  • Arab World Children Not Learning

    Liesbet Steer: The news for what Arab world children are learning is pretty bad. More than half of primary age children are not reaching basic learning benchmarks, which means that children can’t read a sentence or add and subtract whole numbers.

    Liesbet Steer

  • Arab Students Not Learning 21st-Century Skills

    Hafez Ghanem: The curriculum in the Arab world is too traditional, too much based on rote learning. Students in the region are not learning 21st-century skills like working in teams, problem solving, being innovative, and risk-taking.

    Hafez Ghanem

  • In Arab Education, No Analytical Thinking, Teamwork, Leadership

    Perihan Abou Zaid, Qabila Media Productions: Nothing in the education system encourages analytical thinking, teamwork, or leadership. It’s frowned upon to question your teacher, to question your parents.

  • Private Sector’s Role in Arab World Education Quality

    Magdi Amin, International Finance Corporation: In order to move forward the private sector needs to be in a position to play a role in defining not necessarily the quantity but the quality of what gets taught. What can be done to match the need?

  • Focus on School Enrollment in the Arab World Detracts from Quality Goals

    Shantayanan Devarajan, The World Bank: It’s very easy to get kids into school, but 100% enrollment guarantees jobs for the public school teachers. A learning goal, a quality goal, is much harder to meet, and it faces huge resistance.


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As war rages on in Syria and Egypt struggles with growth and democratic transition, the fragility of the economies and governments in the Arab world has become clear. Education lies at the heart of these challenges, and moving beyond the Arab Spring toward political and economic stability will require ensuring that all young people in the region get a quality education so they can develop the skills needed to lead productive lives and find jobs in an increasingly competitive global economy. 

On February 12, the Center for Universal Education at Brookings launched the Arab World Learning Barometer, a new report and online interactive that shows how the challenges in providing good-quality education the Middle East and North Africa threaten to undermine the region’s economic growth and political stability. The discussion centered on the links between education and employment, with a special focus on the region’s youth bulge and its particular implications. The event began with a presentation on the findings of the report, followed by a moderated discussion with an expert panel.

Join our discussion by using #ArabLearning.

Listen to our related Arab Learning podcast »

The Arab World Learning Barometer - View the interactive


Event Agenda


February 12, 2014

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM EST

Brookings Institution

Saul/Zilkha Rooms

1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications


Related Paper

Arab Youth: Missing Educational Foundations for a Productive Life?
by Liesbet Steer, Hafez Ghanem, and Maysa Jalbout

Arab Youth: Missing Educational Foundations for a Productive Life?

English  |  عربي