Expectations and aspirations: a new framework for education in the Middle East and North Africa: overview

Author(s): El-Kogali, Safaa

Organisation(s): World Bank

Date: 2018

Pages: 6 p.

Education has a large untapped potential to contribute to human capital, well-being, and wealth in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). In fact, it has been at the heart of the region's history and civilizations for centuries. In the 20th century, education was central to countries' struggles for independence, to building modern states and economies, and to defining national identities. Today, MENA has the lowest share of human capital in total wealth globally (Lange, Wodon, and Carey 2018). While the region's young people have attained higher educational levels than their parents, they were not able to translate their educational attainment to greater income opportunities (Narayan et al. 2018). That is, while MENA has the highest absolute intergenerational education mobility compared to other regions in the world, it also has low intergenerational income mobility. In most other regions, educational attainment and incomemobility are well correlated (Narayan et al. 2018). The 435 million residents of MENA are enduring a period of pronounced hardship. Ongoing threats to peace and economic stability are contributing to challenges across numerous sectors. Economic growth has remained persistently low in the aftermath of the Arab Spring (World Bank 2015a), youth unemployment rates have risen, and thequality of public services has deteriorated (Brixi, Lust, and Woolcock 2015; World Bank 2013a). Even in relatively stable countries, labor market outcomes for the educated have worsened (El-Araby 2013; Krafft 2013; Rizk 2016; Salehi-Isfahani, Tunali, and Assaad 2009; Tzannatos, Diwan, and Ahad 2016). Exacerbating these challenges was the substantial downturn in the global oil market, which has placed more pressure on resource-rich countries (IMF 2017) and created an even more urgent need to push for human capital development across MENA.

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