Dubai: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said here Tuesday that education should be given top priority in the Muslim world.
The Muslim countries can only improve their wealth and social security if they pay special attention to education, Razak said in his opening speech at the three-day tenth World Islamic Economic Forum which kicked off in Dubai Tuesday, Xinhua reported.
He pointed out that the Islamic world once had one of the world's leading education initiatives and was home to the world's first universities.
"However, it has fallen back immensely as two out of three Muslims cannot read and write today," he said
Razak quoted UN studies that globally, illiteracy costs the world economy $1 billion per year. The Middle East and North Africa, where the majority of the population follows Islam, has some of the highest unemployment rates among youngsters.
The Malaysian prime minister praised Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai for her courage to continue to fight for women's education and raise global attention to it. So far, only two Muslims have been awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry or physics and "this has to change", Razak said.