Last week, I shared with you alarming results from the Brookings Institution’s Arab World Learning Barometer. Related to those findings on the connection between lack of learning and youth unemployment in the Arab region, is the latest release: Arab Youth: Missing Educational Foundations for a Productive Life?.
Here are some of the main findings from the study:
- Most governments have so far concentrated on stimulating labor’s demand side but have not been paying attention to the supply side (e.g., ensuring that youth have the skills to compete in the labor market).
- Despite signifigant investment and better performance in education, young adult women are much less likely to be employed than are men.
- 40 percent of employers in the formal private sector in the Middle East & North Africa region identify skill shortages as the major constraint to business operation and skills growth.
So what can be done? The report offers 5 questions to start the discussion and we offer TYO’s input:
- Research confirms that investing early in children’s lives is one of the most beneficial investments a country can make in its future. At TYO, we offer world class early childhood programs for children starting at age 4. With the new STEP! initiative we aim to scale up our interventions in Palestine.
- Learning Outcomes cannot be improved without addressing the shortage of teachers and the quality of teaching. Schools in Palestine face a severe teacher shortage. However, more pressing then the number of teachers is the quality. In universities across the West Bank, outdated forms of pedagogy and rote memorization are still the norm. Through the STEP! program, TYO will partner with Columbia University in New York to provide local teachers creative and child-based curricula and training.
- Solutions need to take account challenges in conflict-affected countries. Children in Palestine need more than academic focused learning. Faced with daily trauma and uncertainty, holistic non-formal educational techniques most be integrated into classroom learning. We have seen tremendous success at TYO through our psychosocial non-formal educational approach and urge others to do the same.
- Governments cannot improve the quality of education alone. The private sector in the region would be among the greatest beneficiaries of higher learning achievements, given that children and youth are their future pool of employees. With support from the Abdel Hameed Shoman Foundation, TYO’s new STEP! initiative is engaging the private sector in Palestine to recognize and meet the needs of the market.
- The systemic collection and use of data on learning outcomes is an important first step for any country that seeks to improve students’ performance. Palestine is one of the countries that the report cited as having limited data. We urge countries to ensure that learning outcomes be set and used to improve existing systems.
-Humaira is the Country Director for TYO-Palestine