Arab Knowledge Report 2010/2011
The Arab Knowledge Report 2010/2011, ‘Preparing Future Generations for the Knowledge Society,’ is based on the principal findings of the Arab Knowledge Report, 2009, which drew attention to a knowledge gap and low levels of cognitive performance among Arabs in knowledge-related areas. The 2009 report illustrated that as knowledge is crucial to achieving sustainable human development, the political will and mobilisation of resources and capabilities would be necessary to bridge gaps in this area and to build the desired knowledge society.
The Arab Knowledge Report 2010/2011, is based on a broad conception of the knowledge society that argues for the presence of three components: skills, values and enabling environments. The 2010/2011 report approximates that more than 60 percent of the population in Arab countries is aged 25 or less and found that within the region and noted a decrease in cognitive skills among youth, specifically regarding problem solving, written communication, the use of technology and capacity to search for information. In 2007, 29 percent of Arabs over the age of 15 were illiterate in comparison to 16 percent globally and in 2010, 19 percent of Arab children aged 6 years and less had access to public childcare centres compared to 41 percent globally.
The key areas of activity for building the knowledge society referred to in the report include ‘the transfer and acquisition of knowledge and technologies, the provision of enabling environments and employing them in the service of human development’. Emphasis is placed on the principles of this movement which include ‘freedom, integration with the development needs of the society' as well as 'openness and intercommunication in all areas including scientific technology and humanities’.
The 2009 Arab Knowledge Report emphasised the importance of the construction of the Arab citizen and Arab knowledge capital, built through education, to the creation of the knowledge society. The report stated the need to build a ‘critical mass’ of qualified human capital that was intellectually capable of driving the process of building the knowledge society and bringing the economy forward for the benefit of future generations. The Arab Knowledge Report 2010/2011, develops this point further and addresses the issue of preparing the coming Arab generations to integrate into the knowledge society.
To bridge the knowledge gap it is argued that future generations need to be taken care of starting from the ground up, by developing a plan aimed at building a new base of knowledge for children and the youth, and laying foundations to facilitate the renewal of society’s knowledge base and to capitalize on the options that such a situation offers. It is also necessary to develop opportunities to satisfy the ‘hunger’ for knowledge among the youth without prejudice of their values, cultural identity, and intellectual and moral references.
The report is divided into six chapters and offers four case studies which highlight the need to improve conditions to better equip new generations with the intellectual characteristics required to access the knowledge society. The report identifies the challenges posed by the environments in most Arab countries which are ‘represented by weak corporate governance, high rates of corruption, weak indicators of freedom, an absence of democracy, increasing rates of poverty and unemployment, restrictions on women’s freedom, and the failure of economic reform policies to achieve social justice and provide employment opportunities for the youth’. The report, illustrates the issues the Arab Youth suffers from with respect to existing political and social conditions.
After the report’s field studies had been completed and during the writing of the report in late 2010 and early 2011, there was a wave of popular protests in most parts of the Arab region which came to be known as the Arab Spring in which the Arab youth were key actors, calling for change and political reform, democracy and social justice and the fight against corruption.