Beirut Spring’s guest economist disputes a wildly shared statistic
Guest post by Mohamad Alloush
When I first read the report about Lebanon’s education system being ranked 4th in quality of math and science education and 10th in overall education, my immediate thought was “where on earth was that statistic pulled out from?” I’ve had some firsthand exposure to the poorer public schools in this system and there are primary schools where more than a quarter of the students are still illiterate by the time they reach the fourth grade. I called bullshit and moved on.
But then everybody started sharing these numbers and voicing their pride about them. The Mountains! The Sea! AND now a world class education system? It was irritating to say the least, but even more so because it came from the most educated in our society.
Let me rewind a little to explain. I’m in the process of getting a PhD in economics and I’m mainly interested in education, skills, labor market, and development. I also worked for an international organization writing reports on education and labor in the region. So when I saw those numbers, I knew something just wasn’t right. So I took some time and skimmed through the report.
The Infamous Ranking
The report is a legitimate and thoughtful work on technology, labor, and work in the world. Our two tables of interest were put together using numbers from the 2012 Executive’s Opinion Survey. In a nutshell, this survey asks a number of executives in target countries around the world what their opinion was on certain issues in their country.
I looked the number up for Lebanon, and it turns out 48 executives in Lebanese companies of different sizes responded to this survey. The best part though is what comes next. Continue…