Middle East Notes and Comment: The Education Imperative
May 18, 2012
Education is a two-way street. Governments invest in education because it contributes to national strength, and individuals invest in education because it contributes to individual strength. While the precise balance differs, one side principally provides resources, the other principally provides time, and each derives benefit.
At the core of this bargain is governmental interest in boosting productivity and an individual concern with economic security. We conventionally think of education as being about hope and promise, but underlying education is a fear that ignorance and illiteracy create burdens on governments and individuals alike.
In some of the wealthier states in the Arab world, the fear is absent, and the results are apparent. In these states, national wealth comes from natural resources rather than large numbers of people, and individuals’ prosperity often comes from loyalty rather than productivity.