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The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education and MIT Launch Two-Year Capacity Building Program

March 7, 2017 | Zawya

Dubai – The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) launched a two-year capacity building program entitled “Transforming Teaching and Learning in the Arab Region through Online Learning.”

The program kicked off with a two-day workshop with the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the American University in Cairo (AUC), the first two collaborators in the program, who affirmed their commitment to developing and recognizing online and blended (a combination of online and face-to-face) courses as well as to promoting the online learning agenda in their respective institutions and the region.

“The Foundation is committed to driving the online learning agenda in the Arab world and is thrilled to be building a coalition of leading local and international partners who will serve as ambassadors for this effort. Through the investment in innovative educational models, this effort can change the face of higher education in the region,” said Maysa Jalbout, Chief Executive Officer of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education.

The Foundation and MIT have been collaborating since 2016 to help high-achieving underserved Arab youth access quality online educational opportunities. This collaboration represents an effort to set a novel path for educational collaborations among higher education institutions, philanthropies, and governments. In addition to the capacity building program, the Foundation is currently offering scholarships for Arab youth enrolling in MIT’s first two MicroMasters programs in Supply Chain Management and Data, Economics, and Development Policy. The MicroMasters is a new form of flexible online credential as well as a new path to an MIT master’s degree. Learners that are accepted to MIT after completing the MicroMasters program will be given academic credit for the courses belonging to the MicroMasters credential, which will accelerate the completion of their MIT degree.

Internet penetration in the Arab world is one of the highest in the world. By 2018, there are expected to be some 226 million Internet users in the Arab world, amounting to more than 55% of the population – almost 7% higher than the global average. Yet, the Arab world is one of the only regions that does not accredit online learning. Quality higher education opportunities remain out of reach for a large portion of the over 100 million Arab youth, the largest proportion of youth in the world, due to high costs, low quality of education, geography, political instability, and other barriers.

The capacity building program consists of two phases. In the first phase, MIT through it’s Office of Digital Learning will be supporting AUB and AUC with (re)designing blended learning courses. Phase two will involve engaging with new universities and working with other stakeholders including governments and the private sector to address the barriers of adopting high quality online learning in the Arab world.

The next meeting will be held in Dubai in collaboration with the government and will be focused specifically on the challenges and opportunities of online learning in the UAE.