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Transition to online learning part of EBI vision before Covid-19 crisis: Abdel Aziz Nossier - Daily News Egypt

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Transition to online learning part of EBI vision before Covid-19 crisis: Abdel Aziz Nossier

EBI to launch ‘Future Leaders’ online training programme for African Central Bank on 4 May

Remote learning was always available for everyone besides attending physical classroom, but switching to fully online due to the coronavirus pandemic was definitely challenging to many educational and training organisations.

Accordingly, the Egyptian Banking Institute has made its trainings and assessment services available online, as of the suspension of training at the EBI headquarters on 12 March. Since then, a total of 312 trainees have received training programmes virtually.

Daily New Egypt interviewed Abdel Aziz Nossier, EBI Executive Director, to know about the Institute’s plan to deal with the current circumstances.

He stressed that EBI’s online courses were not a response to the present crisis, but it came as part of the Institute’s long-term vision as EBI online platform was launched in February 2018.

What are the measures EBI has taken due to the current coronavirus crisis?

In line with the precautionary procedures and preventive measures taken by the Egyptian government to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, EBI has taken a number of conservative measures, both internally and externally. At the internal level, EBI held an awareness session for its employees in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, in order to raise the awareness about this virus, infection control, and prevention methods. As the situation worsened globally, a decision has been taken to suspend EBI operations and all employees were assigned to telework with all necessary resources to do that efficiently and successfully. From an external perspective, EBI decided to postpone the Afrocon 2020 Regional Conference that was scheduled to take place on 10-11 March till further notice. Another decision has been made to suspend all in-house training activities, as of 12 March. In this context, a cooperation agreement was proactively signed with the American Association for Talent Development (ATD) to qualify 23 instructors to provide virtual classroom training. After completing the training, those instructors were assigned to train other instructors in order to transfer the know-how gained from attending this training. On 1 April, we announced that all trainings and assessment services have been made available remotely and online.

When did EBI begin providing e-learning services?

EBI e-learning platform was launched in February 2018, to keep pace with the rapid digital transformation. This was a proactive measure, which made us today ready to offer all our programmes digitally.

This step was preceded by sending a number of EBI’s employees in a professional training course in the USA to get acquainted with the latest international professional developments in this field, and to gain the experience of designing e-learning programmes as well as the development of training material. EBI has provided the team with all technologies, tools, and software that facilitate the project implementation.

What services and programmes does EBI offer through e-learning?

All EBI services, whether training programmes or assessment services, are now available online. As of the suspension of training at the EBI headquarters on 12 March, a number of programmes have been offered virtually for a total of 312 trainees, in addition to the implementation of 3,646 distance assessments for 3,492 beneficiaries. With EBI availing all assessment services via the internet, banks will be able to proceed with their assessment-related projects remotely. EBI uses, in this regard, state-of-the-art assessment technology equipped with artificial intelligence and virtual meeting applications.

In this context, EBI signed an agreement with Ireland’s Intuition, which is considered a leading organisation in the field of providing e-learning solutions to the banking and financial sectors. The agreement includes availing the “Intuition know-how” platform under the EBI e-learning services. Up to 1.5 million professionals around the world use the know-how e-learning library of Intuition and 90% of large global banks use it.

Furthermore, EBI is now working on the introduction of new online services to be announced in the near future.

Abdel Aziz Nossier, EBI Executive Director

How are the training courses conducted online? What are the steps to sign up and attend?

After receiving client applications, EBI provides each trainee with an account including user name and password on the e-learning platform. Each trainee is allowed to access the training content over the registration period. As for attendance, the e-learning platform generates a number of reports that highlight in details participants’ interactions, different screens, readings performed via available links, etc. In addition, there are other reports that can track exact sign-ins and sign-outs of each trainee. This process comes to an end with the successful completion of final exams.

How does EBI assess trainees after completing online courses?

E-learning assessments vary as per the nature of training programmes. Trainees may receive an introductory placement exam, and a final achievement exam at the end of the programme. Also, there are assessments measuring trainees’ interaction with the online content in the form of online exercises throughout the course. Some training courses include a mix of both the interactive assessment, followed by the end-of-course exam. Trainees obtain their certificates electronically when they pass the final exam successfully.

How many banks have benefited from the Institute’s e-learning services so far?

Since the launching of the e-learning platform in February 2018 till end of March 2020, over 24,000 participants were trained from 13 banks.

What are the latest partnerships or agreements EBI has concluded?

As previously mentioned, EBI has concluded an agreement with Intuition which offers a large library for e-learning solutions in the field of banking and financial sector. It also comprises 1,500 topics and programmes covering more than 500 training hours. Those topics are being updated on quarterly basis. Trainees are granted official accredited certificates upon completion of a full online course. Likewise, EBI has an agreement with SANS Institute for offering a security awareness programme. Hence, EBI signed an agreement with Banque Misr to train 18,000 employees from different sectors on this programme starting at the end of April. Moreover, EBI is in the process of signing a cooperation agreement with Banque du Caire to conduct three online programmes for 5,000 employees on topics covering money laundering, operational risks, and governance.

Can you tell us about EBI’s agreement with SANS?

Securing information on the internet has become one of the risks threatening any organisation. Accordingly, EBI has concluded an agreement with the SANS Institute, a leading organisation in information security training, to provide a security awareness programme, aiming to enhancing trainees’ knowledge with regard to the most common mistakes of using information technology, as well as ways for protecting themselves and their respective institutions from avoidable risks. This programme is available in several languages, including Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.

What about EBI’s social responsibility activities?

As part of EBI’s social responsibility, we launched a new initiative called “Baseera”, to help the visually impaired to overcome the challenges of pursuing study in different educational stages by printing remedial lessons in Braille method, then recording them in an audio form to enable students to study their lessons easily, especially in light of the conditions imposed by the coronavirus and the suspension of schools. In this context, two cooperation agreements were concluded with Resala Charity Organization and Al Nour Wal Amal Association to provide volunteers from EBI to record remedial lessons for students in different academic levels and bear all expenses of the project and prepare audio files for delivery to targeted students.

What are the latest updates of the Shaping the Future initiative?

EBI is focusing on promoting digital awareness through different social networks platforms. Through “Shaping the Future” initiative, we are publishing short videos discussing the basic financial concepts on social media platforms to increase the number of beneficiaries. During this critical period, we published videos that discuss the concept of online banking and how to use the ATM machines to raise the awareness of the importance of these tools and to decrease the number of daily customers inside banks’ branches.

Also; EBI has published a free Financial Literacy interactive e-learning course through its different social media accounts that everyone can access without paying any fees. The course will help in raising the awareness of the basic financial skills and banking services.

After the suspension of study tours due to the current crisis, what is EBI offering for the trainees?

EBI is closely communicating with banks and international financial institutions to study the possibility to schedule webinars and video conferences with banks and financial institutions worldwide to conduct the visits remotely to share with them best practices to face the crises.

How does EBI deliver its services to Africa under the present circumstances?

EBI will provide training programmes to the African banking sector digitally. Last week, EBI has announced the launch of the online “Future Leaders” programme as a grant provided by EBI to the African Central Bank. The programme will start on 4 May.

Are the e-learning services limited only to banking personnel?

In general, EBI services are not limited to the Egyptian banking sector, but rather targeting the financial sector, university students, entrepreneurs, and SMEs. EBI has already been part of the national online “Training for Employment” programme for university students and fresh graduates. Currently, EBI is working on availing online programmes for individual bankers. 

How does EBI currently support entrepreneurs?

EBI has always been supporting young people who are willing to start their own businesses. This was reflected in building their skills and abilities in the field of entrepreneurship by providing a variety of specialised training programmes partnering with some local and international entities and institutions to reach the targeted youth in order to build and enhance their creative capabilities towards starting and continuing their own projects such as: International Labour Organization, EYouth, and the National Council for Women. In the same context, “Start and Improve Your Business” and “Success in Private Business” programmes were presented, where we trained nearly 6,000 entrepreneurs in 24 different governorates. Given the current circumstances, we are developing remote learning programmes to be presented to entrepreneurs.

It was also agreed that EBI and the NilePreneurs Initiative would sponsor the business incubator of the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences for the coming year.

Does EBI still provide its Training for Employment programme? What are the latest developments in the programme?

In fact, EBI is continuing its activity for delivering the programme. Currently, we have introduced a new version of it to meet the current situation’s needs. The new version is a blended solution that depends on remote learning through a combination of virtual learning and e-learning modules. This allows the participants to have the opportunity for more interaction to achieve the programme’s objective. There is a continuous development process for the programme to bridge the gap between the academic education and the labour market requirements especially in the banking sector.

EBI is using the latest technologies to conduct the programme as well as its pre-assessment and final exams electronically, which is remotely invigilated throughout the whole process. The pre-assessment exams include ability exam, English language, Hogan General Employability, and personal interview.

How do you see the Covid-19 impact on the educational and academic field?

As mentioned before, the Covid-19 crisis has left a big impact on our activities and services. Therefore, EBI has been keen to review its annual targets to conduct all its services remotely. Availing EBI services via the internet is the Institute’s strategic goal in the foreseeable future.

Will the EBI continue to provide e-learning services after the pandemic?

Certainly, EBI will continue providing the alternative solutions as we consider this crisis as an opportunity to discover the online privileges whether from the cost point of view or from the flexibility angle. We, hence, expect a large turnout from our clients for this type of training in the future. Noteworthy, EBI’s online courses were not a response to the present crisis, but it came as part of the Institute’s long-term vision as we launched the online platform in February 2018.

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