Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have invested heavily in education for decades but have not been able to reap the benefits. Education can play a vital role in building human capital and contributing to economic growth, and as a means for young people to meet their aspirations. Yet all MENA countries - regardless of their geography, demography, economy, or society—have not been able to fully reap the personal, social, and economic benefits of education. This has contributed to one the world’s highest youth unemployment rates, with rates especially high for educated youth. The frustrated aspirations of this population have been a source of turbulence in the recent past and could pose risks for the region’s future. The current situation in MENA requires a renewed focus on education, not just as a national priority for economic growth and social development but as a national emergency for stability, peace, and prosperity.
Please join us for the launch of the World Bank’s new MENA Education Flagship, Expectations and Aspirations for a discussion on unlocking the potential of education. The report identifies four key sets of tensions that are holding back education in the region: credentials and skills, discipline and inquiry, control and autonomy, and tradition and modernity. These tensions are shaped by society and reflected in schools and classrooms. If not addressed, MENA will continue to operate below its potential. The report outlines a new framework with a three-pronged approach that can help address these tensions. Unleashing education’s potential will require a ‘push’ for learning, a ‘pull’ for skills and a new ‘pact for education.