IACCIA

EDUCATION

The Arab countries have made a significant improvement in the field of formal education in last few decades. There has been a rapid expansion of primary, secondary and tertiary education on account of government’s committed efforts to promote formal education. Data suggests that Arab countries have managed to quadruple the average level of schooling since 1960. They have managed to bring down illiteracy levels by half since 1980. Interestingly they have successfully achieved almost complete gender parity in primary education. A study by UNICEF depicts a very positive picture of MENA countries in general and of Arab countries in particular on the front of achieving the goal of universal primary education. MENA governments have shown a strong commitment to funding public education. The average public investment in education across the region as a percentage of GDP is above 5.3 percent. On the contrary, the total expenditure on education by India as a percentage of GDP is just 3.8 percent.

However, despite all the development in the education space, the region has a lot of scopes to grow in terms of bridging the gap between skill development and job market. Like India, MENA region also has one of the highest young population in the world. To capture this opportunity of reaping the demographic dividend a lot more focused efforts are required. The human capital index published by World Economic Forum suggests that MENA region captures on 62 percent of its total human capital potential. It is even lesser in conflict-affected countries like Yemen and Mauritania. The study also reveals that there is the high rate of employment and under-employment among the young and relatively well-educated population. On this front India with its experience from initiatives like skill India can contribute heavily on certain identified sectors. An education vertical at IACCIA works towards identifying the areas of convergence in skill development and attempts to further Indi-Arab cooperation on this front.