eWENR, January/February 2000: Middle East
President Hosni Mubarak outlined plans to computerize Egypt’s education system during the country’s first conference in information technology (IT) held last September.
The Ministry of Education, in coordination with the Regional Information Technology and Software Engineering Center (RITSEC), recently furnished 2,000 schools with IT equipment purchased from Compaq.
Despite this feat, the government is still light years from getting each of Egypt’s 27,000 schools hooked up to the Internet. Computers are still considered a luxury item throughout the country. Fewer than 200,00 PCs were sold in Egypt in 1999, and there are only 40,000 Internet subscribers out of a population of more than 60 million.
Heba Ramzy, director of RITSEC’s Kid Information Highway, said that one possibility would be to allow computer facilities at one of the schools to be used by pupils and teachers from nearby schools.
Another IT education project being launched in Egypt is Schools Online, which was introduced in Palestine two years ago and has had great success. The project will greatly facilitate the exchange of knowledge between schools, teachers and students in Egypt and throughout the region. PCs and digital video cameras are currently being purchased for the project.
Other IT education projects currently underway in Egypt include the following:
- KidLink endeavors to preserve linguistic diversity by encouraging children to communicate with their peers around the world in 11 different languages.
- 21Century Club is a privately run nonprofit organization that offers computer training in everything from the basics to HTML programming. Since its inception two years ago, the project has benefited 41,000 children and established 60 additional clubs for adults and senior citizens.
- Cisco Systems, a world leader in the field of networking, recently opened an office in Heliopolis and plans to offer computer-training programs for students in coordination with Cairo University.
- LearnNet was established last fall with the support of the World Bank and offers degrees online. The project is a regional distance-learning network that includes Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will conduct its first distance-learning program in the Middle East via LearnNet.
— Egypt Today
Jordan & Syria
The University of Buffalo (UB) will offer a summer study-abroad program in both Jordan and Syria. It will run July 5 through Aug. 12 starting this year. UB is the first institution of higher education in the United States to pursue such an undertaking. The program, called Off the Beaten Path: Sojourn to Jordan and Syria, is being administered in cooperation with AMIDEAST, a private, non-profit organization that promotes cooperation and understanding between the United States and the Middle East.
The purpose of the program is to give students an opportunity to learn firsthand about Jordan, Syria and the Arab world, with the partial aim of diffusing negative stereotypes about Arabs that exist in American popular culture. In 1996-97, there were only 40 Americans studying in the region (not including Israel and Turkey), according to AMIDEAST.
Students will spend the Jordan portion of the program attending lectures on Middle Eastern languages, Islam, the status of women in Jordan, economics and United States-Jordanian relations. Participants will also be able to go on excursions to historical sites in the country.
The second part of the program will be conducted in the Syrian capital of Damascus, where students will participate in lectures and discussions on Arab culture, in addition to taking trips to other cities around the country.
— UB International