Equality of opportunity in educational achievement in the Middle East and North Africa

Equality of opportunity in educational achievement in the Middle East and North Africa

This paper is an empirical investigation of inequality of education opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The paper uses student scores from tests for a number of MENA countries to estimate the effect of circumstances children are born into on their academic achievement.

The document finds that inequality of education opportunities are high in several MENA countries, and have either stayed the same or worsened in recent years. In this respect, it shows that most MENA countries are less opportunity equal in educational achievement than European countries, and several are less equal than Latin American countries.

On the other hand, the authors find that family background variables are the most important determinants of inequality in achievement, followed by community characteristics. Therefore, they conclude that there is plenty of room for policy to further level the playing field in education.

Accordingly, the paper suggests that MENA countries may increase equality of education opportunity by providing more uniform access to educational resources to all communities, rural and urban, large and small, irrespective of sect or ethnicity, and in all sections of the large cities. Subsequently, Equalising access at the community level will go a long way in reducing the negative influence of family background.