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close this bookWIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 16, No. 1, Spring (WIT; 2004; 16 pages)
View the documentSpecial Focus: A Pandemic That Knows No Borders
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View the documentDid You Know?
View the documentA "Did You Know" Special Report: Arab Human Development Report 2003
View the documentGood News
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View the documentWorld Information Transfer: Mission Statement

A "Did You Know" Special Report: Arab Human Development Report 2003

The United Nations Development Programme has for the second year supported the production of the Arab Human Development Report. The scholarly Report offers an optimistic outlook for the region and once again challenges leaders in the Arab world to redress deep seated problems. Prepared by Arab scholars and development experts, the researchers found that, "deep-seated social, institutional, economic and political impediments in Arab countries are preventing the spread of knowledge among people in the region, effectively suffocating the development potential for Arabs," according to UNDP's Choices magazine summary of the 2003 Report.

"The most important challenge facing Arab education is its declining quality."

Arab HDR

The first Arab Human Development Report released in 2002 identified the three most important issues to be addressed regarding human development in the region: (1) lack of modern scientific knowledge, (2) freedom, and (3) women's empowerment. The 2003 Report examines the first issue and identifies the factors which constrain the development of a knowledge and information based society. The Report notes that high rates of illiteracy persist particularly among women and that public spending on education has declined over the last 15 years.

According to the Report there are less than 53 newspapers per 1,000 Arab citizens compared to the 285 papers per 1,000 people in developed countries. Only 4.4 translated books per million people were published in the early 1980s-less than one book per million people per year-while in Hungary, that number was 519 and in Spain, 920. The region accounts for not more than 1.1 percent of all books published worldwide, while its population is nearly five percent of the world's total. Religious books account for 17 percent books published in the region, more than three times the amount in the rest of the world.

Spending on research and development does not exceed 0.2 percent of GNP-one-seventh the world's average-and the number of scientists and engineers working in Arab countries is not more than 371 per million citizens, while the global rate is 979.

Nearly a quarter of all university graduates in 1995/1996 have emigrated. More than 15,000 Arab doctors have moved elsewhere between 1998 and 2000.

The September 11th attacks have led to a 30 percent drop in the number of students studying in America over the last three years.

Source: CHOICES, December 2003

Afghani girls waiting their turn to enter a recently established computer kiosk in Kabul

Source: UNDP Human Development Report 2001


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