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Information technologies and education in the Arab World

[First published on Nature Middle East.]

A new UNESCO report looks at how ICT is being used in education across five Arab states.

In spite of a push to incorporate ICT (information and communication technology) in education across the Arab world, several countries still lag behind, according to a new report from UNESCO.

The report is the first to focus on how ICT is being used in the region and focuses on five countries in the Middle East: Egypt, Jordan, Oman, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (data from the West Bank only) and Qatar. It identifies four main indicators of how ICT rates in education: infrastructure, gender, teacher preparedness and policy.

The basic infrastructure indicator looks at student access to technology and access to the Internet. Of the five countries, Egypt is a clear outlier. At primary school level, an average of 120 pupils share one computer, and at the secondary level, the number reduces to 25 students. The average number in the other four countries is between seven and 19 at the primary school level (Qatar and Palestine, respectively). These numbers drop to five students at the secondary school level.

The disparity between Egypt and the others becomes even more striking when looking at access to computers connected to the internet. Every 441 pupils at the primary school level share one such computer, dropping to 94 at the secondary school level.

Fewer than a third of the computers at schools in Egypt and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are connected to the internet, computers for educational and administrative purposes are both counted. In contrast, about two-thirds of computers in schools in Jordan, Oman and Qatar are online.

« Computers are not necessary as a pre-requisite for good thinking; good teachers are. But young learners need to use computers to be competitive in the global marketplace, » says Marina Apaydin, professor of Strategic Management and Innovation at the American University of Beirut. « Not knowing ITC and language makes kids illiterate in the modern world and this is one of the reasons MENA lags behind say China and India in producing competitive and mobile workforce. »

When surveying teacher preparedness to use ICTs in classrooms, according to nationally-defined qualification standards, the report found that only « a minority of teachers are prepared to teach basic computer skills or computing » across the five states in both primary and secondary schools.

The report found that gender did not factor significantly in access to ICT in education. Interestingly, wherever such differences appear, they seem to favour access to and use of ICT by girls. These findings need, however, to be considered cautiously as the authors point out that the data speaks little about the methods of use of ICT by gender.

All five countries have formally developed policies to integrate ICT in education by establishing « regulatory institutions to ensure that ICT-assisted educational reform takes place. » These policies do not translate, however into practice, the report says. Egypt and the Occupied Palestinian Territories also lag behind the three other countries when it comes to permeation of ICT curricula across all grades of primary and secondary education.

« The problem in Egypt is that a very ambitious modernisation campaign was led to equip schools with computers and internet while less attention was given to building human capacities to use them, resulting in a lack of vision for sustainability of such initiatives, » says Karim Kasim, telecentres regional coordinator for the Egypt ICT Trust Fun ¬—, which was jointly established by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

You can download the full report from UNESCO’s website

 
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Publié par le 31 mai 2013 dans Education/Digital literacy

 

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Cairo Administrative Court Bans YouTube… | Une cour égyptienne veut bloquer YouTube…

(Français ci-dessous)

This morning, February 9, the Cairo Administrative Court announced its decision to ban YouTube and « all other websites that showed the anti-Islam film » ‘The Innocence of Muslims’. The ban is for 30 days. The lawsuit was initially filed on 18 Sept 2012 by a lawyer, Mr. Mohamed Hamed Salem, in the middle of a MENA-wide turmoil the trailer provoked. The lawyer insisted on having the website removing all anti-Muslim videos as they « distort the image of the Prophet ».

Courtesy @asteris

Courtesy @asteris

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Publié par le 9 février 2013 dans Digital freedom

 

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Egypt: The Right to Water

This was originally posted on FutureChallenges.com. I am particularly proud of it as it is the first time ever I do an infographic and I dare submit it for publication 🙂

Water is indispensable to human life. As a basic need, it is highly vulnerable to exploitation and has been recognized as a human right in several international human rights treaties and declarations. Addressing the right to water in terms of sustaining life highlights how important proper policies are for securing health and welfare in human populations. One of the greatest challenges Egypt faces today is implementing appropriate measures to close the worrying gap between limited water resources and increasing water demand (see our infographic below).

The Right to Water, an Egyptian Perspective. Click to see full size. Credit: the author (CC-by 3.0)

The Right to Water, an Egyptian Perspective. Click to see full size. Credit: the author (CC-by 3.0)

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Publié par le 12 décembre 2012 dans Health, Politique

 

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Bad Health Care: The Pandemics of Poverty

This was first published on FutureChallenges.org

The content package of this post relates to the “Death Threat,” and addresses non-communicable diseases. The one I want to speak about is poverty. Because all the other NCDs  you can think of — like obesity, cancer, etc. — are just a consequence of pandemic poverty. Pandemic poverty is an incurable pathogen, and its chronic infection causes an infuriating amount of disorders.

When I started following the Egyptian doctors strike, the first thing that came to mind was to wonder how viral it would go. The working conditions of medical practitioners in Egypt provoke a kind of trauma. Generously, the government spends 5.7% of its total budget on health (many countries spend 15%). This inevitably means that if people want access to healthcare, they have to pay out of their own pockets. Which they do. A lot.

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Publié par le 23 novembre 2012 dans Health, Politique

 

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The Freefall of the Egyptian Judiciary

This opinion was wrote back in August of this year. For some reason, the editor for where it was aimed at being published just didn’t take care of it until now. Given the recent developments in the country, this is really a pity for his website. This said, I like the piece (yes, it happens to me that I like what I write), so I didn’t feel like trashing it. And as remembering is important if we want to move forward, I guess publishing this even with some delay is not a totally meaningless idea 🙂

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Publié par le 17 octobre 2012 dans Politique

 

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Cyberpunk mayonnaise: Thoughts about the cyberspace in a day without internet

The awkward moment when you wake up and realize your internet connection is screwed up is the moment where you start thinking in a different way. Yes, in 2012, in a rich Western country, a storm can still cut the internet. In such a case, “storming the internet” takes a very clear, ground-level meaning… Well, ok, let’s get to something tasty yet nearly forgotten: being home alone and reading a book.

I get bored very easily and have a particular propensity of making myself accomplish miracles. In other words, I start a huge amount of complex tasks that I often have little knowledge about: what is more exciting than exploring immense territories of human minds and imagination? This is a rhetorical question. Coherent with myself, I’m in the situation where my third year of PhD in science coincides with the year when I have to complete my Bachelor’s in Law of the industrial property. Yeah, I know. But I spoke miracles, right.

Anyway, lyrical auto-centered swerve ends here. After 5 minutes of deep exhausting thinking, I decided that my Bachelor’s thesis should encompass not only the privatization of biological matter and genetic information – where I could thoroughly explain why biopatents are a very ugly and unnatural idea – but that I should broaden the spectrum of ugly and unnatural ideas to the basic, the fundamental one: intellectual property itself. I thus decided to include the so called “new technologies” (that is, the Internets) and software patents.

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Updates on #EgyPresElex: irregularities, #SabahiPresser

Updates added as news come out, so check out regularly.

Things unfold really quickly in Egypt. Yesterday, I was writing about the possible options of getting out of the current presidential stranglehold. Things go into the most reasonable and secure direction, IMHO, which is: show how much Shafik does the things wrongly, not only when he was Mubarak’s buddy — because apparently being felool doesn’t prevent Egyptians to vote for him, — but also and more importantly how thirsty for power he is and eager to re-impose the old dictatorship. How? By proving he has cheated during the election process.

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Publié par le 27 mai 2012 dans Politique

 

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