Amman (JO), November 2009 - The session -œMENA Atelier- discusses challenges faced by the MENA region with regard to eLearning and ICT and also highlights important achievements. One of the projects that will be presented is the Jordan Education Initiative. Mustafa Nasereddin, Executive Director of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization in Jordan and also founding chairman of the Union of Arab ICT Associations, IJMA3, has been involved in a wide range of human development and technology management projects and is building on a continuous development of eLearning in Jordan's schools.
What is the main purpose of the Jordan Education Initiative?
Mustafa Nasereddin: The Jordan Education Initiative (JEI) was created in 2003 with the assistance of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to leverage public-private partnerships to improve the application of information and communication technology (ICT) in grades 1-12 in Jordanian schools. The four primary objectives of the JEI are as follows:
- improving the development and delivery of education to Jordan's citizens through public-private partnerships, and in the process, help the government of Jordan to achieve its vision for education as a catalyst for social and economic development;
- encouraging the development of an efficient public-private model for the acceleration of educational reforms in developing countries based on unleashing the innovation of teachers and students through the effective use of ICT;
- building the capacity of the local information-technology industry for the development of innovative learning solutions in partnership with world-class firms, creating economic value that will lead to mutually beneficial business opportunities; and
- leveraging an environment of national government commitment and corporate citizenship to build a model of reform that can be exported to and replicated in other countries.
How long is the program's duration and how is it organized?
Mustafa Nasereddin: The project lasts three years, and most partner support for content development and partner provision of ICT inputs was completed in early 2007. Fortunately, the Jordan Education Initiative Project Management Office has been able to continue working with the Ministry of Education and with other partners.
The goal is to coordinate the remaining activities, conduct further training, and monitor the use of ICTs and other activities in anticipation of further development of the eLearning approach. This approach is then to be scaled up in the other schools that are part of the national Education Reform for a Knowledge Economy (ERfKE) initiative.
How would you describe the quintessence of the Jordan Education Imitative?
Mustafa Nasereddin: The main points are:
- institutionalization of the JEI thought process into a Regional Center for Innovation in Learning;
- development of a "service model" that catalyzes continuous innovation through local-regional-global partnerships;
- communicating the Jordan Education Initiative as an "incubator" for dynamic dialogue on education reform; and
- delivery of regional and international solutions that advance education agendas of nations.
CHECK.point eLearning wrote in 2007: "The Middle East is becoming a leader in the incorporation of technology into educational processes...". Which role does the Jordan Education Initiative play in this context?
Mustafa Nasereddin: Jordan continues to be a leader in innovation in education through its
- well-respected, transparent, and effective government system;
- willingness to undertake reform initiatives within relevant sectors;
- strategic importance to the international community; and
- accessibility and cultural openness.
What do you expect for the future of this program?
Mustafa Nasereddin: JEI has not yet achieved all of its goals. So far, the JEI has:
- helped stimulate the establishment of a Jordanian education software and e-content media development capacity;
- developed a first generation of e-content in six content areas;
- begun the process of training teachers, principals, and other school personnel in the use of ICT to support eLearning; and
- accelerated the investments in connectivity and ICT provision for the schools.
Further progress in using ICT infrastructure to support interactive and problem-based learning will require
- changes in pedagogy to enable more student use of technology in the classrooms and laboratories;
- increased access of students to the Internet outside the classrooms and laboratories;
- curriculum and scheduling changes to facilitate such changes in student use of technology;
- modest additional investments in ICT capacities and software, particularly anti-virus and changes in the networking infrastructure and protocols to allow larger rich-media files; and
- increased training for teachers, principals, and laboratory technicians.
The JEI can build on the experience of the exemplary principals, teachers, and supervisors identified within the "Discovery Schools". Further progress will also require a strong role for JEI, or an equivalent mechanism, providing essential coordination, management, executive, and monitoring functions for the development of eLearning resources and approaches in Jordan. It is also extremely important to capturing and disseminate lessons learned from the experimental and development phases of each iterative stage of eLearning innovation.
The path forward foresees
- continuing the implementation and roll-out of JEI across the Kingdom;
- revisiting the objectives and scope of JEI;
- determining the governance and management model essential to realize objectives; and
- continuing the development of innovative products.
Experience more regarding the topic in the session "MENA Atelier" on Thursday, 03 December 2009, 14:00 - 16:00, room "Charlottenburg III"