What is the GLOBAL KNOWLEDGE INDEX” and “How did the UAE Reform?

22 January 2019

Lab Chat

The publication of the latest edition of the Global Knowledge Index (GKI) has revealed that the UAE has jumped up an impressive six places to 19th out of 134 nations. The index is a scorecard created by the United Nations Development Programme and ranks countries on a wide variety of different criteria.

Having only been launched for the first time in 2017, the GKI has just two editions to date. However, improvement in the UAE’s education and technology sectors have seen it leapfrog five nations into the top 20 and experts say that it could even infiltrate the top 10 next year if it pays heed to the increasing calls for action on climate change from environmentalists all over the world.

What is the GKI?

The GKI was created in 2017 to score 134 nations across the globe on seven different sectoral indices, each of which are broken down into a number of pillars. These indices and their attendant pillars are comprised of:

  • Pre-university education – Knowledge capital, Educational enabling environment.
  • Technical vocational training and education – Formation and professional training, Features of the labour market.
  • Higher education – Higher education inputs, Higher education outputs and quality
  • Research, development and innovation – Research and development, Innovation in Production, Social Innovation
  • Information and communications technology – ICT inputs, ICT outputs
  • Economy – Knowledge competitiveness, Economic openness, Financing and value added
  • General enabling environment – Political and institutional, Socio-economic, Health and environment

Of course, each pillar is again broken down into its constituent parts and individual countries are ranked on all of them. They are then assigned a ranking based on an overall picture of their performance.

How did the UAE do?

Unsurprisingly, the area where the UAE excelled the most was its economy, where it was second only to Singapore. However, significant improvements to its education system and technological capabilities saw it steal into the top 20 for both indices, providing the main catalyst for its overall rise in the leader board.

For example, the fact that the country now ranks in first place for the training of teachers in both its primary and secondary schools explains why it is ranked 13th overall for pre-university education. Successes such as these mean that it is placed above countries like Israel, New Zealand and Hong Kong on the overall ranking table.

Room for improvement

The sectoral index in which the UAE performed poorest was General enabling environment, especially with regards to its climate responsibilities. Such an occurrence is fairly normal for a Gulf State which relies on fossil fuel extraction for much of its economy, but an improvement in that area could see it rise even higher in the rankings.

“It’s very difficult for any country to jump even one or two ranks but the UAE has improved across the indices,” explained Hany Torky, a prominent authority on the topic. “All oil-based countries have a low rank in environment because of carbon dioxide emissions. The UAE has to work a lot on this. If it does, it may go up into the top 10.”

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