Do Arab Students Excel at School? Find out which countries made it to the list
By: Wael Sultan/Arab America Contributing Writer
Education plays a huge role in human, social and economic development. Countries with quality education can promote gender equality, reduce child marriages, promote peace and enhance a person’s chance of having a healthy life. Education is fundamental to development and growth; unfortunately, quality teaching isn’t always accessible to all, and others struggle with little to no education. The human mind makes all development and achievements possible, from health advancements and technological innovations to efficient public administration. For nations to reap these benefits fully, they need to unleash the potential of the human mind. And there is no better way than providing top-notch quality education and investing in your citizens.
The Golden Age of Islam sparked knowledge and education and had a vast impact on our world. With countless breakthroughs in the sciences, mathematics, astronomy and language, more was known than ever before. Do these aspirations endure in the 21st century? Are modern-day-Arabs the product of their enlightenment?
The empire sprawled across Persia, the Middle East and as far as the Iberian peninsula. It’s no shock that the Arab-Islamic World had a rich history with inventiveness and ingenuity, especially in mathematics and science disciplines. From this era, multiple influential mathematicians like Al-Khwarizmi, Al-Karaji, Al-Tusi, Ibn Sinan have set the stage with their work for the coming centuries.
Islamic mathematicians developed algebra and trigonometry by combining Greek geometry with Indian and Babylonian ideas. The innovation didn’t stop here; Islamic astronomers made extensive and highly accurate maps of the heavens. Many of the stars are referred to by their Arabic names to this day. The Quran itself encouraged the accumulation of knowledge, and thus a golden age of Islamic science and mathematics flourished throughout the medieval period. The was House of Wisdom set up in Baghdad in the 9th century, and work began, translating the prominent Greek and Indian mathematical, science and astronomy works into Arabic.
Muhammad Al-Khwarizmi, one of the most significant early Muslim mathematician, was an early influencer of the House of Wisdom. He supported adopting the Hindu numerical system (1-9 and 0), which he recognized as having the power and efficiency needed to restructure Islamic mathematics. His brilliance helped create powerful abstract mathematical language still used worldwide and allowed a much more general problem analysis. Later in the 10th-century mathematician, Muhammad Al-Karaji extended the algebra theory, freeing it from its geometrical convention and introducing algebraic calculus theory. More Arabs scholastic accomplishments included Ibn Sinan, who continued Archimede’s investigations of areas and volumes. Al-Marrakushi, whose work included, computing square roots and the theory of continued fractions and many more.
Are Math and science ingrained in Arab’s DNA?
According to data obtained from the organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The 2020 best countries for education are ranked based on a perception-based global survey. Which gathers a compilation of scores from three equally weighted attributes from each country:
- Having a well-developed public education system.
- Will people consider attending university there?
- Does the country provide top-quality education?
Based on this information, Canada is the most educated country globally, with 56.71 of adults meeting the OECD criteria. Japan has the second-highest percentage of 51.55%. Unfortunately, not a single Arab country made the list.
“One of the most reviewed studies regarding education around the World involved 470,000 fifteen-year-old students. Each student administered similar tests to the American SAT or ACT exams. The SAT and ACT are both standardized tests used for college admissions. The SAT covers writing and language, reading and math with an optional essay section, while the ACT has English, math, reading and science reasoning with an optional essay section. The SAT scores on a scale of 400-1600, combining the scores of two areas (math and critical reading and writing), scored on a scale from 200 to 800. Each of the four sections of the ACT scored on a scale 1-36, which then gets averaged and rounded to a nearest whole number to receive a combined score.”, – World population review.
Students that participated in the study were given exam questions that tested their reading, math and science abilities. The answers were reviewed and each exam received a score, which then gets averaged for each of the three subject matters. From the score obtained, you can get a general feeling of literacy rates and education level from one country to another. Let’s see how Arab students stack up against their global peers.
According to the results, with a wide lead, China received the highest score of 1731; followed by Hong Kong, Finland, Singapore, and South Korea, who all received scores above 1600. While Countries like Qatar, Panama, Peru and Kyrgyzstan were at the bottom percentile.
Only four Arab countries made an appearance on the list. The United Arab Emirates scored the highest out of any Arab country, ranking 41st globally, followed by Jordan at 53rd, Tunisia at 58th and Qatar at 62nd.
Unfortunately, these numbers are merely the reflection of the education system and the lack of investment in the population.
Today’s students will in coming years be governing the world. Their thoughts and actions will be shaped by what they know have experienced, making education, in many ways, one of the best predictors of a nation’s future success. Arab nations must act up before they lose an entire generation of productive members in society.
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