Dubai – MENA Herald: As part of the preparations to launch Arab Knowledge Index as a practical tool to measure knowledge in the Arab world, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organised a series of workshops in the region hosting experts and academics to discuss the core pillars of the Index. Two of these workshops were held in Tunisia and one in Dubai.

Experts participating in the Tunisia workshops called for due emphasis on the education pillars in the Arab Knowledge Index – Higher Education; Pre-university Education; Technical and Vocational Education and Continuous Training. They pointed out that right education is critical to building human capital and achieving sustainable development in the region.

The experts suggested that Arab countries can make use of the experiences of MBRF and UNDP in the knowledge domain to measure the status of education and find effective solutions to fill the knowledge gaps in their communities.

The participants were unanimous in their view that Arab countries need to build educational indicators based on the specific needs of each country in particular and the region in general. The workshops presented the first two formulas proposed to build two composite indices to measure the effectiveness of Pre-university Education; Technical and Vocational Education and Continuous Training.

The Dubai workshop discussed the indicators for development of university education in the region. Moderated by Dr. Ali Saeed Al Kaabi, member of the Arab knowledge Index expert committee and Deputy Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment at the United Arab Emirates University, the workshop pointed out that university education is a pivotal area since graduates are the final products of the educational process.

Pointing to the University Education index, which comprises three sub-indices related to inputs, outputs and processes, the workshop called for emphasis on education outputs when calculating university education index.

His Excellency Jamal bin Huwaireb, Managing Director of MBRF, said the workshops organised by the Foundation and the UNDP in Tunisia and Dubai contributed to the systematic construction of the index. “The process has added more credibility and transparency to the building of the Index, and provided an opportunity for experts to transfer their expertise in their countries and promote the Index at the regional level,” HE Bin Huwaireb said.

He stated that the workshops highlighted the importance of Pre-university Education in establishing the capabilities of the new generation. The in-depth discussions on technical and vocational education and training sectors in the index will help governments in strategic planning and human resource development. The discussions were aimed at achieving a balance in the outputs of technical and vocational education and training system on the one hand and the requirements of the labour market on the other,” he added.

“The monitoring of the university education process offers an opportunity to decision-makers to identify its strengths and weaknesses,” HE Bin Huwaireb added.

MBRF had announced the Knowledge Index during the first Knowledge Conference in 2014. The index will contribute to providing accurate methodology tools to measure the development of the status of knowledge in the Arab region to support development plans and public policies as well as regional and national programmes to improve and upgrade them to world-class levels.