‘Learning curve’ offers lessons for policymakers

Updated 27 January 2013

‘Learning curve’ offers lessons for policymakers

Important economic, social and education facts about Saudi Arabia have been included in a new report released by Pearson.
Saudi Arabia’s public expenditure per pupil as a percentage of GDP per capita is estimated at 20.69 percent, according to researchers.
The graduation rate at tertiary level is 19.76 percent and the real GDP growth per head of population stands at 3.7 percent, the study says.
Pearson has published The Learning Curve: a new report designed to help policymakers, school leaders and academics identify the key factors which drive improved educational outcomes.
Finland and South Korea emerge as the clear “education superpowers” from the Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment, and both offer lessons for the Gulf.
The global study, carried out independently by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), includes a new Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment, drawing on existing data from the international OECD-PISA, TIMMS and PIRLS assessments, as well as country-level data about literacy and school and university completion rates.
It is hoped the report will prove useful to governments in the Gulf as they seek to further develop the significant gains seen in their education systems over the past decade.
New findings can help Gulf governments build on educational successes of recent years, said Christine Ozden, president of Pearson in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean, at the regional launch of The Learning Curve.
The Gulf region has experienced remarkable achievements in all levels of education over recent years, but policy makers admit there are still challenges that need to be overcome.
Pearson believes this report will be instrumental in providing regional governments with the qualitative research and data needed to make informed decisions about future policy directions.
Ozden said: “This report and accompanying website contain a wealth of useful and accessible data, and will therefore be an extremely useful resource for policy and decision makers in the Gulf.”
Ozden added: “Key education input and output indicators of countries in the region can be viewed online, as well as the socio economic performance of those countries, demonstrating the affect education has on the well-being of the public.”
The Learning Curve also provides policy lessons and internationally comparable data on education alongside economic and social data from 50 countries in a new publicly accessible, open-source database.
The data bank will enable researchers and policymakers to connect education inputs and outcomes with wider social and economic outcomes more easily than ever before.
The leading countries in the cognitive skills category, which comprises the international tests (PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS) in maths, reading and science that students take at Grade 8 and Grade 4, come as no surprise.
The top five — Finland, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan — all score more than one standard deviation above the norm.
Ozden added:
“The Gulf has made extraordinary gains in education in a relatively short time frame. However, governments and learning institutions in the region consistently tell us that they want to create education systems that lead the world. The knowledge acquired from this report will help them to do that. It will give decision makers in the Gulf access to a wealth of information about what makes learning successful on a scale never seen before anywhere in the world”.
Denis McCauley, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s executive editor, business research, said:
“The Learning Curve breaks new ground in terms of data collection and analysis, but there is so much more to do. We hope our study serves as a catalyst for further collaborative efforts by academics, practitioners and policymakers to deepen our knowledge about what contributes to better education performance and outcomes.”

Saudi Arabia has lion’s share of regional philanthropy

Updated 27 April 2018

Saudi Arabia has lion’s share of regional philanthropy

  • Kingdom is home to three quarters of region's foundations
  • Combined asets of global foundations is $1.5 trillion

Nearly three quarters of philanthropic foundations in the Middle East are concentrated in Saudi Arabia, according to a new report.

The study, conducted by researchers at Harvard Kennedy School’s Hauser Institute with funding from Swiss bank UBS, also found that resources were highly concentrated in certain areas with education the most popular area for investment globally.

That trend was best illustrated in the Kingdom, where education ranked first among the target areas of local foundations.

While the combined assets of the world’s foundations are estimated at close to $1.5 trillion, half have no paid staff and small budgets of under $1 million. In fact, 90 percent of identified foundations have assets of less than $10 million, according to the Global Philanthropy Report. 

Developed over three years with inputs from twenty research teams across nineteen countries and Hong Kong, the report highlights the magnitude of global philanthropic investment.

A rapidly growing number of philanthropists are establishing foundations and institutions to focus, practice, and amplify these investments, said the report.
In recent years, philanthropy has witnessed a major shift. Wealthy individuals, families, and corporations are looking to give more, to give more strategically, and to increase the impact of their social investments.

Organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have become increasingly high profile — but at the same time, some governments, including India and China, have sought to limit the spread of cross-border philanthropy in certain sectors.

As the world is falling well short of raising the $ 5-7 trillion of annual investment needed to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UBS sees the report findings as a call for philanthropists to work together to scale their impact.

Understanding this need for collaboration, UBS has established a global community where philanthropists can work together to drive sustainable impact.

Established in 2015 and with over 400 members, the Global Philanthropists Community hosted by UBS is the world’s largest private network exclusively for philanthropists and social investors, facilitating collaboration and sharing of best practices.

Josef Stadler, head of ultra high net worth wealth, UBS Global Management, said: “This report takes a much-needed step toward understanding global philanthropy so that, collectively, we might shape a more strategic and collaborative future, with philanthropists leading the way toward solving the great challenges of our time.”

This week Saudi Arabia said it would provide an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid in Syria, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

The UAE also this week said it had contributed $192 million to a housing project in Afghanistan through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.