Syria: The primacy of higher education
Minister of higher education Hassan Risheh - the ministry with responsibility for pre-university students is run separately - is convinced of the importance of tertiary education to Syria's economic future. "Investment in human resources development (HRD) plays a very important contribution to building a sound economy," he says, "and to building an economy which is able to compete in an era when we are seeing globalization all over the world and the opening of economies all around us. But investment in HRD means a complete reform of the system, which is why we are not only talking now about economic reform but also about educational reform in Syria."
In the context of education, the essence of this reform appears to be its new emphasis on quality rather than quantity. The provision of basic education is seen as a virtual birthright in Syria, with free and compulsory education for all up to the age of about 15, and with basic education accounting for about 10% of the total budget, according to Risheh. This in turn has laid the foundations for a society with quite a good literacy rate and with strong standards of basic tuition across a wide range of subjects.