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The Paradox of Higher Education in MENA

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Jun 30, 2016 / 0 Comments

This blog originally appeared in Future Development.

Note: This is an English version of my keynote speech given at the recent MENA conference on “Paradigm Shifts in Tertiary Education” in Algiers on May 30-June 2.


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was the cradle of higher education. The three oldest, still-functioning universities in the world are in Iran, Morocco, and Egypt. The University of Al-Karaouine in Fes has been granting degrees since 859 A.D. Yet, today the quality of higher education in MENA is among the lowest in the world.


Continue reading this article on the World Bank’s blog, here.

Shanta Devarajan

Shantayanan Devarajan is the Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa Region.  Since joining the World Bank in 1991, he has been a Principal Economist and Research Manager for Public Economics in the Development Research Group, and the Chief Economist of the Human Development Network, South Asia, and Africa Region. He was the director of the World Development Report 2004, Making Services Work for Poor People. Before 1991, he was on the faculty of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.


The author or co-author of over 100 publications, Mr. Devarajan’s research covers public economics, trade policy, natural resources and the environment, and general equilibrium modeling of developing countries. Born in Sri Lanka, Mr. Devarajan received his B.A. in mathematics from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.


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