Speakers at the El Jadida Seminar (Morocco) on 5-6 December

Meeting education policy challenges in a changing Arab region

Fostering cross-national cooperation in training and education system assessments

Education is a fundamental priority, a human right that enables individuals to access and exercise other fundamental rights, empowering as well as providing social and technical skills. In the current context in the Arab world, these matters have a special resonance. But successful development depends largely on a country’s capacity to formulate relevant policies, implement plans, and manage limited resource in an efficient manner. Over the past two years, UNESCO conducted an analysis of the educational needs in the Arab States which confirms that governments should strengthen their national capacities for educational policy, planning, and management, notably by enhancing the skills of planners.

In order to help managers and decision-makers of the Arab region tackle their challenging tasks, the UNESCO Office in Beirut organized a regional policy seminar in El Jadida (Morocco) on 5–6 December 2011, with support from IIEP, the UNESCO Office in Rabat, and the Morocco National Commission for UNESCO.

Approximately 50 high-level decision-makers from ministries of education discussed various themes and shared experiences on improving education systems. The participants agreed to implement two regional initiatives: a regional network of training centres in Educational Planning and Management (EPM) and a regional initiative for monitoring education quality.

Implementing a regional training network.

The establishment of a regional network of training centres capable of designing and delivering capacity development interventions will ensure continuity and regional self-sufficiency in developing national capacity in educational policy, planning, and management. Three national institutions have been chosen to deliver programmes in EPM in the entire region: the Regional Centre for Educational Planning (RCEP) in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; the National Centre for Human Resources Development (NCHRD) in Amman, Jordan; and the Centre d'Orientation et de Planification de l'Education (COPE) in Rabat, Morocco. In the coming years, these centres should train about 40 officials in the Arab region each year.

Monitoring the quality of education

The Doha Declaration of the Ministers of Education in the Arab States (September 2010), recognizes the lack of national capacity and the crucial importance of monitoring education quality in running assessment surveys. In response to such a need, the UNESCO Beirut Office developed a regional initiative to promote and enhance high-quality national mechanisms for assessing educational quality and developing regional benchmarking framework for education quality. This initiative will run from 2011 to 2015 and, with support from universities in the region, will develop a broad indicator framework for monitoring education quality and enhance capacity of educational analysts and planners on evidence based policy formulation.