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Education

Most Middle Eastern countries provide free primary and secondary education. University education is either free or subsidized by scholarships for those in need. Although in theory primary education is compulsory in all countries, internal conflicts and remoteness of many areas from urban centers often prevent full attendance. Nearly all school-aged females participate in the primary and secondary education, but far fewer continue to university level. In more conservative states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, the sexes are educated separately at all levels. Although literacy has improved significantly in recent years, it remains low in much of the Middle East by Western standards. In the mid-1990s literacy rates for people aged 15 or older were 38 percent in Yemen, 51 percent in Egypt, 58 percent in Iraq, 63 percent in Saudi Arabia, 71 percent in Syria, and 72 percent in Iran.

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