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    Posted July 29, 2014 by
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    Education in MENA

    Education is an imperative component of any society. It helps improve the well being of people either directly or indirectly and helps address critical societal demands and development needs. In MENA (Middle East and North Africa), the access to education has recently improved drastically as compared to several past decades. Good news is that there has been an increase in the number of trends encouraging women and girls towards education.
    Enrollment in primary schools, as we speak, is universal or high in most regions of MENA. Also, the gender disparities in secondary schools that used to exist are slowly and day by day disappearing. Today, more women are likely to enroll in universities in these regions than it was in the past. Below is a graph of the percentage of literate women between the ages of 15-24.

    But bigger challenges that require handling still remain. Most people — particularly girls from marginalized areas — are still not able to access proper education. Yes, the number of girls is rising each day but then they are not learning enough to help prepare them for the future job markets. In some of these countries, access to both higher education and secondary that is valuable-creates a knowledgeable and skilled task force continues to lag behind. In essence, the knowledge and skills imparted are not enough to keep them going into the future. Access can be good but without quality education then it is as good as useless. The most chilling factor is the inability to help provide the requirements for development of the Arab societies.

    We are all heading to an increasingly open economy. Ideally, the countries that have low illiteracy levels will be more competitive. Also, gender disparities in regard to education will consequently be minimized and vice versa. This is because any foreign investor will first need skilled personnel that are not very expensive. Numerous global trends today are posing new and special hurdles that illiterate women will not manage to go over. An economy’s export orientation and the growing necessity for medium-sized and small businesses are creating more opportunities for women; however women still require proper education as well as training so that they can confidently grab these opportunities.
    Additionally, the advantages of educating women/girls for the purpose of women's gender equality and empowerment are shown below:
    • As the female education levels increase, fertility, child and infant mortality falls, there is population growth, and the overall family health is enhanced.
    • Improvements in the enrollment of girls in secondary schools can be associated with rises in women's/girl’s participation in the task force. Their contribution to national income and households becomes immense with enhanced education.
    • Women's improved earning capability, in essence, has a positive impact on child nutrition.
    • Children — particularly daughters — from educated mothers will most likely be enrolled in better schools and thereby have higher grades hence higher levels of educational achievement.
    • Educated women will most likely be better informed and politically active in regard to their legal rights and the manner in which to exercise them.
    It is evident that few countries in MENA generally have higher levels of educated and women-motivated task force for participation in growth and development of a country in regard to other nations with almost equal income levels. The interactions between the MENA's conservative culture and economic structure, for which the traditional gender based roles are heavily enforced, is by large responsible. In contrast, the men counterparts from the same MENA region do not have a problem with direct access to employment, wages and overall control over wealth. A large number of women on the other hand are still economically dependent on their male counterparts for their daily requirements.

    However, good news is that the situation in the MENA countries is slowly taking shape and things are beginning to change. You can hear of women activist today, something that was rare in the past. Nowadays, women can stand up to challenge and challenge the status quo. However, this trend is different from one country to another. Despite this, these developments have been noted in almost all countries in MENA. Even the relatively conservative countries have seen the need to support their own women towards political, social and economic empowerment. These countries are also spearheading the need to create impetuses for women to become actively involved outside their homes. With increases in MENA’s cost of living, most families are inclined to depend on extra income that female counterparts bring home at the end of the day.
    Why Action needs to be taken.
    Efforts to enhance female education especially in MENA regions need to bypass the rhetoric and therefore involve programs and policies with measurable results. The governments in these regions need to start by including the MDGs as part of their national development agendas and monitoring advancements towards those objectives. Also, these governments should improve their effort in making sure that education is easily accessible even to the rural population and low-income families. Keen considerations and attention should be directed towards the quality of education that is provided plus the need for these girls to go through school successfully.
    The graph below shows the omparisons between men and women in terms of labor force participation.

    It can be noted from the graph that the levels of women against men, as far as labor force contribution is concerned, is much lower.Richer nations both outside and inside the NEMA region are encouraged to assist the resource-poor nations in improvement of their educational frameworks and therefore collect data that regards its progress. Enhancing the access to as well as the quality of education is by large the most rewarding investment that any nation can make. Any investments in the direction of female education is welcome and will help change the face of a nation by pulling down the dark side of existence of illiterate women in a generation where virtually everybody is heading to school. Female education helps accelerate the social and economic development in the MENA region simply by improving the human capital, alleviating poverty and slowing a country’s population growth.
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