Arab leaders yesterday grabbed a huge opportunity in wide-ranging and multi-faceted educational reforms after signing on a landmark Doha Declaration.
The document, ‘Quality of Education for All’, came after two days of intense closed-door deliberations among regional leaders, in the presence of event initiators Qatar Foundation (QF), the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO), and World Bank, in coordination with the Qatari Supreme Education Council (SEC), with all parties concluding that the time for change is now.
In the declaration, 17 states from the Arab world, agreed to implement a system of evaluating the performance of schools, teachers and students. The states agreed that results will be made public and shared among participating countries.
Development of the evaluation system has been handed over to ALECSO, in particular its Arab Educational Observatory.
The declaration came in response to assessments presented during the Ministerial Colloquium on Quality of Education in the Arab World, which pointed out that Arab youth currently leave school with levels of numeracy and literacy below the global average, and with a lesser command of the skills increasingly sought by employers.
The Doha Declaration also states that high-quality education should equip students to become active citizens in their communities.
Restructured national education systems should be “characterised by autonomy, accountability, and clear and transparent education policies” and encourage broad community participation.
The declaration commits the signatories to continuous collection of data, on which the region severely lacks, in order to enable transparent evaluation and assessment, and the spread of best practices.
QF Education vice president and World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) chairman Dr Abdullah al-Thani said: “We all know that our best asset is our people, but this wealth will only be realised through judicious investment.
ALECSO director general Dr Mohamed Al-Aziz Ibn Ashour said: “The capacity of countries in the Arab world to compete in the global economy depends on their being able to meet the rapidly escalating demand for high-level skills.”
World Bank Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region vice president Dr Shamshad Akhtar said: “The Arab world has made great strides in getting children into school. And now there is a new set of challenges. As school systems reach maximum levels of participation, concerns about quality multiply.”
HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education, Saad bin Ibrahim al-Mahmoud, who was also the host of the two-day Ministerial Colloquium on Quality of Education in the Arab World leading to the Doha Declaration, said: “Despite the educational mobility witnessed by the Arab world through our various initiatives, we are still working to meet the aspirations of our societies and global academic standards.”
“Now we shall be working within a structure which will bring about a more productive learning process.”
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