SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Amid talks of economic development and political stability, education took the spotlight as the key to moving forward with the plans set by leaders and experts at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East this week.
Currently in its second year, the Egyptian Education Initiative (EEI) was celebrated as a success story as First Lady Suzanne Mubarak and her US counterpart Laura Bush announced plans to make it global.
Under the umbrella of the Global Education Initiative (GEI), the EEI will cross national boundaries to act as a role model and extend its support on educational reform in other developing countries, such as Rwanda, which has shown interest in the Egyptian model.
The EEI s third year will be dedicated to impact assessment and exploring means of making the program sustainable. said Hoda Baraka, director of the Egyptian Education Initiative (EEI) and first deputy to Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
Egypt adopted the Global Education Initiative in 2006 in a bid to make Egypt a techno-savvy nation. The EEI uses a public-private partnership model to improve education by integrating information and communication technologies in the learning process.
Cisco is one of the partners that were selected by the Ministries of Education and Information Technology to deliver and implement the EEI.
Tae Yoo, Cisco s senior vice president of corporate affairs, said the company is keen on investing in communities to maintain its long-term sustainability.
When you invest in a community, you [learn] that a healthy community means a healthy business.
Cisco has a lead in this line of business; it embarked on its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives almost 10 years ago.
EEI is a project within the WEF, where multiple companies work together in education development, basically using ICT in teaching, or what we call e-learning, she commented. It is a vision of integration, a collaborative effort of PPP.
Under the umbrella of the EEI, Cisco – along with other partners – has brought in a combination of funding, training, and IT equipment to some 2,000 public schools and 18 universities.
One of Cisco s main objectives behind the EEI is to create a larger pool of people who are tech savvy.and ensure that we are a major stakeholder in the community, she said.
The initiative has matured and is ready to go global, and Yoo believes it has a strong edge going forward.
In going global, she said, that Global Education Initiative seeks to take the best practices applied in a country and provide mentorship for other countries to follow.
In Egypt, Yoo explained, its edge lies in its sheer size: 2,000 schools have benefited from the EEI.
The EEI also provides teachers training, and so far around 185,000 teachers received training on using IT tools in education.
One of the things we found is that teachers feel that access of information enables them to make the teaching experience more exciting in the classroom, so teachers are a vital part of it [EEI], Yoo said. One of the things ICT offers is interactivity in the classroom.
The EEI does not simply take the ordinary curriculum and put it on a computer. Its scope is much wider than that. It educates students on means of using IT tools, for example, in doing research, taking exams, and writing assignments.
In one area, the EEI presents a comprehensive online assessment for students. It is designed to assess the gaps in their knowledge. .With every test taken, students and instructors know where they are doing well. For example, if too many students got a part wrong, the instructor will go and re-teach that part The EEI has accomplished a critical milestone toward equipping students with the 21st century skills that will enable them to participate in this global economy, she stated.