Education and Democracy in the Middle East and North Africa: A Case-study Comparison of Five Nations
Phoutrides, Stephanie M.
- The region of the Middle East and North Africa has long been noted for its relatively low rates of democracy. Many scholars have suggested reasons for this, including the presence of oil, imperial legacies, and security concerns. My research is an attempt to understand the role education might play in transitioning to and maintaining democracy in the region. Various scholars have found links betwe... read moreen education and democracy worldwide, associating high literacy rates, high cognition, and equal access with higher rates of democracy. I conducted case studies of five countries in the region: Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. I examined their varying levels of democracy, as well as data on access to education, quality and cognition, and freedom of expression. I also examined the countries_ï¿½_ respective constitutions and statements made by their ministries of education. I have focused especially on Tunisia, where I conducted research with Tufts New Initiative for Middle East Peace. / There was not a great deal of variation among the case study countries in the basic indicators of education. They did vary in terms of their levels of democracy, however. I was also able to find qualitative differences in education between them. Factors such as nationalist civic education, teaching style, and conceptions of citizenship appeared to play a part in the relationship between democracy and education. While the quantitative data do not show conclusively that more educated countries in the MENA region are more democratic, the quality and content of education can tell us a fair amount about this complex relationship. /read less