​The World Bank and educational quality in MENA

The World Bank uses the results of international student assessments such as PISA and TIMSS as a proxy for the quality of human capital and finds that the region ranks low on the results of these assessments. 


The World Bank notes in its 2013 report, Jobs for Shared Prosperity. Time for Action in the Middle East and North Africa, that “the quality of learning in MENA as measured by international standardized tests, for example, is still below the level expected given MENA countries’ per capita income” (World Bank 2013, p. 24).  

Educational Quality in the Middle East and North Africa

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The World Bank’s 2008 flagship report, The Road Not Traveled. Education Reform in the Middle East and North Africa, tends to inform its educational regional policy directions and recommendations. The World Bank uses an economic lens for its analysis of the state of education in the region. It draws on the knowledge produced by the discipline of education economics and neoliberal theories of public choice.  The World Bank finds evidence that “the higher level of investment in education during the last four decades was not associated with higher economic growth” (p. 47).  The Bank produces one possible explanation for this weak association between education and economic growth: the quality of education.