THE SPINE FEBRUARY 6, 2008
There have been several United Nations Development Reports on the Arab world, and all of them have reported virtual disasters in every field: education, reading and translation of books, women's entrance into mainstream society, literacy, life expectancy and infant mortality. Now comes a more specific study from the World Bank about the results of forty years of investment in schooling. Another across-the-board disaster.
The FT reports this morning that "Middle East and North Africa schools fail the test." Which test? Every test.
Why? The usual. No incentives for good teachers and good schools, pretty much as in the United States. Lack of accountability. Local governments have little influence on the education system, as if that would improve the situation. The bank reports, in any case, that "many graduates prefer to pass up opportunities in the private sector and remain unemployed, sometimes for years, until they are offered government jobs that are guaranteed for life and boast higher benefits." Anybody who has ever been in a government office in an Arab country knows just how hard people work, and how efficient those offices are not.
Jordan and Kuwait are at the top of the dismal list, that is, the best of the countries studied. Djibouti, Yemen, Iraq and Morocco are the lowest.
Who is to blame? Israel, of course.