The commission to study education in Arabic-speaking countries was established in the early months of 1945 by the American Council on Education at the request of the United States Department of State. Many requests for assistance had been received by the division responsible for cultural cooperation, and it was felt that insufficient information was available upon which to make sound decisions relative to these requests. It was thought that a description of the provisions for education in certain countries of the Near East would be helpful not only to the Department of State but also to educators and laymen who are interested in education in the Near East. Representatives of the United States were requested to secure approval for such a study from the governments of countries in the Near East. Such approval was obtained from Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
Since the initiative did not come from the countries to be studied, it was thought that the survey should be descriptive rather than evaluative or critical. Care has been taken, therefore, to avoid evaluations of any of the schools and systems studied, and recommendations have not been included. An attempt is made in the final chapter to give some interpretation of the situation relative to education.
The members of the Commission--Matta Akrawi of Iraq, Emam Abdel Meguid of Egypt, and Roderic D. Matthews of the United States--met in Shimlan, near Beirut, Lebanon, in July 1945 to lay plans for the study and to examine background materials relating to each of the countries to be visited. The itinerary and schedule agreed upon provided that Iraq was to be visited from September 15 to November 14, 1945; followed by Egypt from November 15, 1945, to February 15, 1946; Palestine from February 15 to April 1, 1946; Transjordan from April 1 to April 8; Syria and Lebanon from April 8 to May 30, 1946. In the course of the travels in six countries a total of 471 schools (240 elementary, 128 secondary, 66 vocational and teacher-training institutions, and 37 institutions of higher learning) were visited, distributed as follows: Egypt, 106; Iraq, 100; Lebanon, 89; Syria, 78; Palestine, 77; and Transjordan, 21. Most (297) of the schools visited were public or government schools, but 71 private schools and 69 foreign schools, as well as 34 Hebrew schools in Palestine, were also visited. The summer of 1946 was spent in Shimlan, Lebanon, where the writing of the report was begun. The report was completed in the United States during 1946 and 1947.