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Gulf countries rank high in ‘Index’ category: UNHDI

The performance of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar in the recently announced UN Human Development Index (UNHDI) is good news for learners in the region, Karim Daoud, Managing Director of Pearson’s Middle East Hub, said.

All three countries were ranked in the ‘very high’ category of the Index, which measures a country’s level of human development against three basic dimensions: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and standard of living.

Qatar, which ranked 31st out of 187 countries, was the highest ranking of the Arab states, however, at number 34 and 40, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were not far behind.

Each of these countries maintained the rank achieved in the previous year’s Index.

Access to knowledge under the Index is measured by the mean number of years of education among the adult population, which is the average number of years of education received in a lifetime by people 25 years or older, and the expected years a child of school entry age can expect to receive.

Daoud says the commendable performance of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar in the 2014 Index, as in recent years, is in part due to the commitment seen in these countries to embedding meaningful education reform.

“Governments in the GCC have invested heavily in their education systems over the past few years, with the percentage of total government spending allocated to education in countries such as Saudi Arabia at around 25 per cent, or $56 billion.

The results of Gulf states in independent, international education tables such as the 2014 UNHDI suggests that education reform in these countries - backed by sizeable public and private investment - is working.

The UNHDI is one of the many data sources used by the Learning Curve, a comprehensive analysis of education systems put together by Pearson and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The Learning Curve, which this year featured country profiles for both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, aims to help learners, educators and governments identify common elements of an effective education.

One of the most important findings of the Learning Curve has been the correlation it has established between education and economic growth.

Whilst it has long been assumed by education policy makers, a nation’s productivity can now be statistically linked to the average amount of time spent in school.

Daoud says that it is this link between education and the economic fortunes of both individuals and countries that make it so important for governments to embed effective education systems, and he believes governments in the Gulf are keenly aware of this connection.

“The human development ratios of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have all undergone a remarkable improvement since the first Index was released in 1980,” he said.

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