x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 October 2017

Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed announces free electronic education programme for 50 million pupils in Arab world

Vice President says no other issue is as crucial as education

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives launch held at the World Trade Center. Antonie Robertson / The National
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives launch held at the World Trade Center. Antonie Robertson / The National

A free electronic education programme for up to 50 million pupils in the Arab world was unveiled in Dubai on Monday.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the translation challenge project at the World Trade Centre.

The move will see 5,000 science-focused learning videos re-produced in Arabic and made available a year from now online and for schools across the Middle East and North Africa.

The intention is to have high quality resources on hand that engage pupils and pique their interest in learning, with the focus on science and maths to fill the knowledge gap in Arab societies.

“E-learning is the fastest way to fill the knowledge in the Arab world,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

“We are in need for high quality educational content in Arabic that will cross Arab borders and be available to millions of Arab students.”

The associated Arabic eLearning Project with Translation Challenge aims to improve the poor quality of education in parts of the Arab world.

During the launch, Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid, Crown Prince of Dubai, watched footage that focused on how there were 53 million illiterate people in the Arab world in 2015, while 43 per cent of Arabs in high school age are out of school.

Therefore, the year-long challenge invites scholars and experts participating in translating 11 million words from the selected 5,000 videos into Arabic.

"I have the honour to be between my sons and daughters, they are the future of the Arab world," said Sheikh Mohammed as he stepped onto the stage with dozens of young pupils and students.

“The first priority is education, the second priority is education and the third priority is education.”

He said that education was the key to the future of the Arab world, in line with a recent drive to create a knowledge economy amid the decline of oil revenues.

“I spoke in the government summit about reviving civilisations, and today I am happy to be a member of that team of students of 50 million - we will all work together to upgrade knowledge and education,” he added.

Starting today “the door is open to everyone in the Arab world” from experts, scholars and talents who are interested in contributing to the project.

“If you have experience in voice over, photography, production or translation, a website has been set up to register your name in any category you can contribute to,” said Mona Al Kindo, a projects manager at Mohammed bin Rashid Initiatives.

Those interested can log on to www.almaktouminitiatives.org.

The coming 12 months will be spent preparing the material for the videos to be published.

The initiative follows the launch of the Arab Reading Challenge two years ago that sought to encourage reading and fund the donation and purchase of millions of books for schools in the Arab world.

Abdullah Al Nuaimi, a project manager at the Initiatives project, said the new project follows on from that success.

"The reading initiative in the first year reached one million students, and then it reached 3.5 million.

“The videos are already there in English, all we have to do is ask volunteers to answer Sheikh Mohammed’s call to reproduce them in Arabic and we will all work together as one team.

“This is the beauty of the challenge; it is open to everyone to bring initiatives and challenges in the Arab world.”

He said the videos focus mainly on maths and science, because that is where "civilisations start from".

“In the Arab world we were pioneers in those fields, and now is the time to catch up," Mr Al Nuaimi said.