Data Visualization

Blog of the Data Visualization & Communication Course at OSB-AUB

This is my favorite part about analytics: Taking boring flat data and bringing it to life through visualization” John Tukey

The Rising Challenge of Primary Education Expenditure in MENA: Can We Afford to Ignore It?

The Rising Challenge of Primary Education Expenditure in MENA: Can We Afford to Ignore It?

Imagine a journey through time, from 2012 to 2021, where Primary Education Expenditure in the MENA region is on a decreasing trend from 4% to 3%. It’s a concerning trend that threatens the very foundation of education for our children.

The Problem

The problem is crystal clear. When you cut down on education spending, you’re essentially trimming the wings of future generations. The numbers don’t lie. The shrinking budget for primary education means dilapidated schools, underpaid teachers, and a lack of essential learning materials.

The Bright Path Forward

The road to recovery starts with one word: Investment.

  1. Pouring more funds into primary education.
  2. Making the most of available resources.
  3. Shouting from the rooftops about why this matters.
  4. Rewarding those who make it happen.

How do we know our solution works?

Numbers don’t lie, but they can also tell a tale of triumph. And “Cote D’ivoire” is a great example. When increasing the educational expenditure, the percentage of children school drop outs decreased from 31% in 2013 to 3.1% in 2021.


The results speak for themselves. More investment equals better education. Keep the funds flowing, optimize, and let’s champion education together.

When we invest in primary education, we invest in brighter futures. It’s high time MENA governments heed the call and secure quality education for all.

Mitigating unemployment through education

Mitigating unemployment through education

In the challenging landscape of global unemployment, the story of Youmna, a 30-year-old Egyptian woman, stands as a poignant example. A decade of dedication to her organization abruptly ended due to the pandemic, plunging her into a three-year job search. This narrative, compounded by a lack of early educational opportunities, resonates as a common experience in the Arab world.

At its core, Youmna’s story grapples with unemployment, a conflict explored through its definition and the consequences it imposes on individuals, societies, and economies. Her personal struggles, marked by stress-related health issues, mirror the toll exacted on individuals. Societal repercussions manifest in limited opportunities, substandard living conditions, and underfunded institutions.

Global unemployment rates expose a stark reality, with the Arab region leading at 11.26%, underscoring the urgency of addressing the issue. The intricate relationship between education and unemployment becomes apparent, with studies confirming that higher education levels correlate with lower unemployment risks. A comparative graph illustrates Brazil’s struggle with basic and intermediate education versus Japan’s success with advanced education.

A potential solution emerges: investing more in education to elevate citizens’ skills and foster innovation. Aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 4, advocating for quality education becomes imperative. The graph depicting average education expenditure across countries emphasizes that nations with lower unemployment rates allocate more resources to education. The recommendation is clear: countries should prioritize and increase spending on their education systems, creating a pathway to innovation, economic growth, and enhanced employment opportunities.

Youmna’s narrative encapsulates the broader struggle against unemployment. The call to action is unmistakable: invest in education to reshape the narrative, empower individuals, and build resilient, thriving communities. In the transformative power of education lies the resolution to Youmna’s journey, a beacon of hope in the face of adversity.

Educational Crisis in Lebanon: Bridging Gaps and Charting a Path to Inclusive Learning

Educational Crisis in Lebanon: Bridging Gaps and Charting a Path to Inclusive Learning

Lebanon’s public education sector has grappled with numerous challenges in recent years, such as a shortage of spots in public schools, strikes by primary and secondary teachers, and various other issues. As a previous student in the public sector, STRIKE! was the most common act I encountered from my teachers. A lot of strikes and movements were organized by teachers, asking for their rights, increased wages, etc.. This was a great disabler for an efficient learning journey, where stability, the most important aspect was absent. Such a state deprived students, in one way or another, of having access to free and inclusive educational institutions/schools. For that reason, a comprehensive study I conducted revealed that a significant number of students have turned to private schools as an alternative, highlighting a critical problem in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of providing quality and inclusive education for all students.



To address the issue of the lack of educational opportunities in public schools, which should be guaranteed by the government, as the 4th goal of SDG states, an examination of Lebanon’s education expenditure as a percentage of GDP was undertaken, where reflects the amount of money the government spends on education, in addition to another factor, which is the percentage of government’s expenditures on education as a percentage of total expenditures, These 2 metrics are then considered particularly in comparison to France, given Lebanon’s adherence to the French Educational System. The analysis of these two metrics exposed a disparity, with Lebanon’s current education expenditure as a percentage of GDP having risen since 2019 due to the economic crisis, reaching 2% in 2022, compared to France’s 6%. Although Lebanon fares well in terms of the percentage of education expenditures compared to other sectors, with a steady increase since 2014, reaching nearly 8% in 2020 in contrast to France’s 10%, the gap in GDP percentage remains concerning.


In conclusion, addressing this issue requires recommending an augmented budget for Lebanon’s educational sector. Ideally, a tripling of the budget over the next decade is proposed. This increase could be implemented gradually, but decisive action must be taken to ensure progress towards the SDG of providing quality and inclusive education for all Lebanese students.

Addressing Intentional Homicides in Jamaica: A Strategy Rooted in Health and Education

Addressing Intentional Homicides in Jamaica: A Strategy Rooted in Health and Education


by Charbel Hanna Daou (MSBA 24)


In the heart of the Caribbean, Jamaica faces a startling reality: its soaring intentional homicide rate is not just a statistic, but a looming shadow over the nation’s future. This crisis goes beyond mere numbers, threatening the very fabric of Jamaican society and shaking the pillars of stability and safety that its citizens rely on. It’s a call to action, demanding not just attention, but a deep dive into the root causes and a strategic battle plan to turn the tide against this wave of violence. The urgency to address and mitigate this issue couldn’t be more pressing, as the fate of Jamaica’s well-being hangs in the balance.



Delving into the Crisis


The alarming rise in Jamaica’s homicide rates over the past two decades is a cause for serious concern. The data shows an increase to 52.1 homicides per 100,000 people by 2021, a figure that not only stands out in the Caribbean region but also ranks highest on a global scale. This disturbing trend is indicative of deeper societal and systemic issues that need to be addressed with urgency and precision.



Strategic Approaches Aligned with SDGs


In response to this escalating crisis, two potential strategic solutions, in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), present themselves as viable pathways to combat the high homicide rates:

  1. Increasing Government Health Expenditure (Aligned with SDG 3): This strategy focuses on the crucial role of health in society. By boosting government spending on health care, particularly in areas like mental health services and addiction treatment, Jamaica could tackle some of the underlying factors contributing to the high rate of homicides. The premise here is that better access to health services, including mental health care, can play a significant role in preventing violence and crime.
  2. Extending the Duration of Compulsory Education (Aligned with SDG 4): Education is a powerful tool for social change. By increasing the years of compulsory education, Jamaica could address several root causes of crime, including poverty and inequality. Education not only equips individuals with knowledge and skills but also opens up opportunities, promoting social mobility and reducing the likelihood of individuals engaging in criminal activities.



Learning from Global Experiences


The experiences of the Russian Federation and Colombia provide valuable lessons. Both countries have demonstrated a correlation between enhanced health expenditures, extended compulsory education, and a decrease in intentional homicides. In contrast, Jamaica’s relatively stagnant approach in these areas might be contributing to its high homicide rates. This comparison suggests that adopting similar strategies could yield positive results in Jamaica.



Government of Jamaica, Here’s What You Should Do


Given the evidence and the success of similar strategies in other countries, the following recommendations are proposed for Jamaica:

  1. Increase Health Expenditure: A substantial increase in health expenditure per capita, specifically by a minimum of $100, could significantly improve the quality and accessibility of health services. This step would not only address immediate health concerns but also contribute to the long-term goal of reducing violence and crime.
  2. Reform Education Policies: Strengthening and reforming education policies to extend the duration of compulsory education to at least 12 years is crucial. This change would have far-reaching effects, not only in educating the populace but also in providing them with better opportunities and reducing the likelihood of them resorting to crime.



In the face of its daunting homicide rates, Jamaica stands at a crucial crossroads. The journey ahead is challenging, but it’s also filled with opportunity. By adopting innovative strategies like increasing health expenditure and extending compulsory education, Jamaica isn’t just fighting crime; it’s reinventing its future. This bold move towards enhancing healthcare and education could be the key to unlocking a new era of peace and stability. Imagine a Jamaica where every citizen is empowered by knowledge and supported by a robust healthcare system. That’s the vision—a safer, stronger Jamaica, thriving in harmony and moving confidently towards a brighter tomorrow.

From Crisis to Classroom: Visualizing the Power of External Support

From Crisis to Classroom: Visualizing the Power of External Support



War in the Arab World

Many Arab countries have been through a string of tough wars including World War 1, World War 2, the Gulf War, the Israeli War, and Franco-Syrian War, and many others. These Wars have left a brutal mark on all aspects of life in these countries, making life tough for all the people living there.

Effect of War on Education in the Arab World:

One big area that was affected badly is education. According to the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which aims to ensure that everyone gets a fair shot of education and lifelong learning opportunities. The following map tracks how many kids were going to school in the Arab countries from 1960 until today.

Analyzing this data:

Education was in short supply from the get-go in 1960. It wasn’t until 1971 that we saw a slow increase in the number of kids going to primary school in some countries. But, it’s important to note that in other places, the numbers stayed way too low. This shows that even though things got a bit better in some spots, there are still serious challenges in making sure every kid gets a good education.


This bar graph indicates a notable pattern concerning primary school enrollment. Rather than having a consistent upward pattern or stable change, the data reflects an oscillation, characterized by fluctuating values each year. It is important to note that the decrease in enrollment coincides with periods of conflict and war in the Arab world, specifically during 1982, 1984, 1990, 1995, 2006, 2010, 2015…These periods represent the war struggles that these Arab countries were witnessing. This correlation highlights the impact of war on educational accessibility.

War in Syria

Syria has a long history of war. It played a role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, participating in the Six-Day War in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Additionally, Syria was also involved in the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990 as part of the broader regional dynamics.

The most recent and prolonged war is the Syrian Civil War, which began in March 2011 and involved various internal and external factors contributing to these challenges. Due to this significant crisis, millions of Syrians were displaced internally, and others were refugees in neighboring countries and beyond.

Effect of War on Education

The war in Syria has had a bad impact on education. Many schools have been damaged, and ongoing violence has forced closures. Countless students, both internally displaced and refugees, face difficulties continuing their education. Host countries were under pressure in their educational systems because they had to deal with an unexpectedly large arrival of refugees. Students’ educational experiences were disrupted by the conflict, which had a huge impact on their current and future opportunities.

The presented line chart shows the average enrollment trends in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools over the years.

  • The pre-primary line chart indicates low enrollment, remaining below 10 students throughout the observed period, which emphasizes challenges in early education access.
  • The secondary school enrollment line exhibits moderate fluctuations, ranging between 30 and 77 students over the years suggesting the varying levels of access or interest over the years.
  • The primary school enrollment line stands out with higher average numbers, consistently surpassing 81 students and reaching a peak of 128. These high and more stable enrollment values reflect a more robust foundation in the primary education system.

The three areas witnessed notable and dramatic decreases following the Syrian Civil War highlighting the huge impact of the War on education.

Looking at just primary education tells a powerful story. Even though primary schools consistently had a lot of students, showing how important they are, the graph takes a heartbreaking turn after the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Schools were destroyed, people lost their lives, and families had to leave their homes – some inside Syria and others in different countries. The numbers on the graph don’t just represent students; they tell a story of how the war shook the very foundation of education in Syria. The sharp drop in primary school enrollment is like a reflection of the tough times people went through. It’s not just about rebuilding schools; it’s about rebuilding the support systems and hope that education brings.

Government Expenditure



This line graph illustrates the percentage of government expenditure allocated to primary education in Syria over the years. In 1972, the commitment to primary education stood at 41%, reflecting an investment in this foundational aspect of the educational system. This dedication continued to rise, reaching its maximum at 48% in 1989, indicative of a sustained prioritization of primary education during that period.

However, the subsequent years after 1989 witnessed a notable shift, marked by a huge decrease in expenditure. This decrease in government expenditure on primary education aligns with the broader challenges faced by the country during this period. Conflicts have a significant impact on financing priorities, making it difficult to continue providing the same amount of cash for education.

The Power of External Support

External support, particularly through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), plays a major role in reducing the educational challenges that people who are affected by war are facing. NGOs often step in to provide vital assistance, especially for displaced children, ensuring they have access to necessary educational resources.

In the context of the Syrian conflict, NGOs have been supporting children who have been forced to leave their homes. These organizations work tirelessly to address the educational needs of displaced children in the countries they seek refuge in.

Example: GHATA schools in Lebanon

Zooming in on Lebanon, an initiative that resembles the impact of external support is the Ghata School. This project is a collaborative effort between the American University of Beirut (AUB) Center of Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS) and Kayany Foundation.

The Ghata School exemplifies the power of partnerships between academic institutions and NGOs in providing comprehensive educational support. Through this initiative, Syrian refugees in Lebanon receive not only access to accredited education but also benefit from several digital and soft skills, vocational training, as well as health care.


This shows that due to the help of external support, out-of-school children can join schools for accredited education and improved mental and educational well-being.