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Gains in Female Education in Saudi Arabia Continue with New E-Learning Initiatives
Riyadh, KSA, 23 October 2013: 12,000 new female university entrants in Saudi Arabia will have access to ground breaking learning technology under a new agreement between the world’s largest female-only university and the global education solutions provider, Pearson.
Riyadh’s Princess Noura University has partnered with Pearson to provide its preparatory year students with IT course content for tablet devices as part of the University’s efforts to build a world class digital learning environment for its students. The content will be delivered through Pearson’s MyLabs e-learning technology, an online homework and tutorial system that is used by tertiary institutions around the world. The agreement represents the rapid move towards digital learning in Saudi’s higher education sector, as the KSA Government continues to channel unprecedented funds into creating a world class education system in the country.
As part of its wider education reforms, the Saudi Arabian government has invested heavily in female education, leading to a significant rise in the number of females in the Kingdom finishing school and entering university. Around 60 per cent of the country’s graduates are now female, with an increasing number of young Saudi women attaining both bachelor’s and post graduate degrees. Educational attainment has become a priority among many young women, and the Saudi Government is working hard to ensure this demographic achieves its learning potential. Government allowances are provided to women so that they can complete their degrees, and Government scholarships are being awarded to Saudi women – giving them the opportunity to study in some of the world’s leading universities.
While female participation in the workforce remains low by international standards, it is nevertheless improving – tripling between 1992 and 2010. Tapping into female productivity brings with it significant economic benefits for the country, including a reduction in unemployment figures and an increase in competition, innovation and entrepreneurship.
These gains are being built on by the digital learning initiatives being implemented in learning institutions across the country. The Saudi Government has introduced a unified, national e-learning strategy which will help universities to make e-learning a focus of their activities, replacing their curricula with digital materials. The introduction of e-learning into Saudi’s universities is particularly beneficial for women, as flexible learning options allow women to overcome traditional barriers to higher education, such as distance, cost and social norms.
Pearson’s Saudi Arabia Country Manager, Mohammed Asiri says the establishment of Pearson’s MyLabs e-learning technology at PNU is expected to deliver consistent, measurable gains in student learning.
“MyLabs technology is used by over 11 million students around the world each year. Therefore, we have reliable data that shows the technology can have a positive impact on student outcomes, retention and subsequent course success. Not every student learns the same way and at the same rate, and programmes such as MyLabs recognise this. The technology allows instructors and students to personalise content – reinforcing course concepts in a way that targets the strengths and weaknesses of each student. This programme is an excellent example of how technology can be used to make a real difference in an individual’s life”.
Asiri says that mobilising Saudi Arabia’s female human resources will not only be beneficial to individual Saudi women, but to the country’s economy as a whole as it becomes an increasingly competitive, globalised economy. He says providing young Saudi women with excellent digital and IT skills will play a significant role in this mobilisation.
“The introduction of some of the world’s best learning technology into Princess Noura University will help the university’s students achieve their learning goals, and equip them with the skills they need to thrive in Saudi’s increasingly digitally-reliant economy. The partnership between PNU and Pearson will help create female graduates that are extremely computer literate – helping guarantee the productiveness of Saudi’s future workforce”.
Saudi Arabia’s spend on education is 5.6% of its GDP, higher than the world average of 4.4%
Dubai, UAE, 9 October 2013: The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that over a billion people, about 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability and children with disabilities are less likely to attend and complete school than those without any impediments.
These startling figures were discussed at a preparatory meeting held in Dubai on 3rd October this year for The International Exhibition and Forum for Education (IEFE) which will be take place in February 2014. The focus of this meeting was to highlight the investments being made by the KSA government in education, discussing partnership opportunities for investors while discussing the deployment of smart technologies in special needs education for children.
IEFE 2014 will be held in Al Riyadh Convention and Exhibition Centre and will showcase the major drive towards education improvements in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is the largest education market in MENA and spends 5.6% of its GDP in education, which is higher than the world average of 4.4% and the North American average of 5.1%, according to Al Masah Capital research report.
The opening address was delivered by Dr. Ahmed Dandany, General Manager of Educational Supplies and Teaching Technologies in The KSA Ministry of Education, followed by Edward Abankwa, Programme Director, IEFE 2014. Dr. Dandany highlighted the purpose of IEFE, educational achievements so far aided by the annual occurrence of this programme, the reasons for a renewed focus on special needs education and other Ministry initiatives. Dr. Dandany said: “Education completion gaps are found across all age groups in all settings, as the difference in achievement between those needing special attention and those who do not is very high in the Arab countries. IEFE in its fourth edition has an aim of reducing this gap and make education accessible to all – and also aid this effort through the deployment of smart solutions.”
Edward Abankwa also delivered a presentation on the actual IEFE programme and highlighted the opportunities available for education suppliers across a wide product category ranges and encouraged participants to attend and exhibit their solutions at the event next year.
There was also a Smart Technology in Education panel discussion featuring contributors from Microsoft, IDP and National Geographic.
IEFE 2014 is open to local and international education suppliers and organisations, and also universities and colleges who are looking to develop international education and training partnerships and programmes.
The previous edition of IEFE took place in February this year and provided a platform for local and international education sector organisations to meet and form business partnerships across various educational segments including, but not limited to IT, curriculum development, special needs, building and construction, quality and accreditation, leadership and training, sports and science equipment.
Highlights of programme included more than 30 countries represented at the exhibition, 15,000 sq. m of exhibition space occupied by local and international supplier organisations and service providers to the education sector and 50 keynote addresses by international industry experts. Visitor numbers also increased 15% from the previous edition of IEFE.
Attendees at the event in 2014 will again include senior decision makers from Saudi and GCC Governments ministries, universities, colleges and public and private schools, senior representatives from international educational institutions, investors, educational agents, technology providers, research & developments agencies, corporations affiliated to education sector, training organizations and key service providers.
Edward Abankwa concluded: “We will also showcase the latest technology and knowledge solutions from international and local suppliers of education equipment and infrastructure aimed at achieving excellence and innovation in public and private education in the region.”
E-Learning Initiatives Help Realise Saudi’s Vision of a Knowledge-Based Economy
Riyadh, KSA, Dubai, UAE, 7 October 2013: As Saudi Arabia realises its long-term goals of improving literacy and school attendance rates, embedding e-learning in Saudi schools and universities is fast becoming the next major education challenge for the country.
Saudi Arabia has achieved remarkable improvements in education over recent years, with literacy hitting an all-time high of 96 per cent, and 99 per cent of school age children in the Kingdom now attending school. With basic education indicators firmly on a pathway of success, education experts are now looking to e-learning as the next focus of Saudi Arabia’s education policy.
Establishing e-learning as the norm in Saudi educational institutions is already well underway. Higher education institutions have undergone major changes in recent years, as they offer blended learning options, moving away from entirely face-to-face delivery. Digital learning tools, such as e-texts and online learning systems are becoming increasingly common in universities throughout the country.
The Kingdom’s burgeoning e-learning capability was the focus of the recent conference hosted by the Saudi National Centre for E-Learning and Distance Learning and King Khalid University. The theme of the conference was “Development and Shareability in E-Learning” and brought together e-learning deans from universities across Saudi Arabia and around the world. Leading international experts in education technology discussed the latest innovations in digital education, and how they can be leveraged to improve the learning outcomes of Saudi tertiary students.
A speaker at the Conference, Dr Jeff Borden, Pearson’s Vice President of Instruction and Academic Strategy and Lead at the Centre of Online Learning, has had global experience in designing e-learning programmes for learning institutions. Dr Borden believes that entrenching a culture of e-learning in higher education is also critical to the Saudi Government’s goal of achieving a diversified, knowledge based economy.
“Saudi Arabia’s commitment to improving education has led to significant gains in the country’s key education indicators. According to data from the World Bank and the OECD, illiteracy in Saudi Arabia has fallen to below 4 per cent and more and more school leavers are now entering higher education. The country is now in an excellent position to continue to build on these significant educational and associated economic gains by harnessing the power of digital learning solutions”.
“International research demonstrates that the dissemination of e-learning technology in universities contributes meaningfully to the development of knowledge based economies. This is in part because e-learning helps more people engage in higher levels of learning as historical learning constraints such as distance or lack of time are broken down. E-learning also fosters the skills necessary in the development and building of a knowledge based economy, which in turn leads to growth in productivity, entrepreneurship, and competitiveness. By embracing e-learning solutions, Saudi universities are therefore contributing to the long-term prosperity of the country as a whole.”
Mohammed Asiri, Pearson’s Country Manager in Saudi Arabia believes that the educational technology adopted by universities in Saudi Arabia will be effective in improving student learning outcomes and lead to tangible improvements in institutions’ results.
“Pearson has been working closely with a number of tertiary institutions across the country to assist in achieving a sustainable transformation to technology enabled education. Pearson is dedicated to providing the right expertise and infrastructure for the availability, shareability, and re-useability of quality learning systems and content. We are helping universities embrace the e-learning revolution, and thereby helping to ensure to today’s students are equipped with the skills necessary to thrive in Saudi Arabia’s increasingly technology-reliant workplaces”.