Pearson to develop PISA 2018 Student Assessment 21st Century Frameworks for OECD.

Dubai, UAE, 15 December 2014: Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, today announces that it has won a competitive tender by the Organisationfor Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)to develop the Frameworksfor PISA 2018.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)is widely recognized as the benchmark for evaluating education systems worldwide by assessing the skills and knowledge 15-year-old students will need in their further academic education or for joining the workforce. 
PISA is administered every three years inaround 70 participating economies world-wide. Representative national samples of 15-year-olds from these countries took the PISA 2012 test totaling about 510 000 students and representing about 28 million 15-year-olds globally. Similar, if not higher, numbers are expected for PISA 2015 and PISA 2018. From 2015 onward most students will take PISA by computer.
The frameworksdefinewhat will be measured in PISA 2018, how this will be reported and which approach will be chosen for the development of tests and questionnaires.  The main tasks will be to:
·        Redefine reading literacy, taking into account how young people are taught to approach the digital environment including how to recognise credible websites and online documents.
·        Review and where necessary adapt the frameworks for mathematics and science.
·        Develop the student questionnaire framework for the collection of contextual information and the measurement of other education outcomes which may have connections with performance
·        Develop a framework for the measurement of global competence which will assess students’ awareness of the interconnected global world we live and work in and their ability to deal effectively with the resulting demands.
Pearson’s chief executive John Fallon said:
“High quality education is vital to a nation’s economic development and social well-being – and PISA is a key tool by which nations can measure their own educational progress and learn from each other.
“We are developing global benchmarks that, by assessing a wider range of skills, willhelp more young people toprosper in the global economy.  We are very pleased to be supporting the OECD and academic colleagues in this crucial work.”
Head of the PISA programme at the OECD Andreas Schleicher said:
“PISA 2018 has the potential to be the start of a new phase of our international assessments. We can now make much smarter use of technology in how we test young people, and we need global competence as governments around the world seek to equip young people with the skills they need for life and employment.”
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Notes to editors
1.      The OECD’s PISA test (www.pisa.oecd.org) is widely recognized as the benchmark for measuring the improvement of education systems worldwide. Between 65 and 74 countries/economies participated in previous cycles of PISA which is run every three years, since 2000.  Representative samples of students are selected at age 15 in each country in order to provide consistency across borders and regions.
The Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development (www.oecd.org) exist to promote policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.
2.      Pearson (www.pearson.com) is the world’s leading learning company, providing educational materials, technologies, assessments and related services to teachers and students of all ages.  From pre-school to higher education and professional education, our curriculum materials, digital learning tools and testing programmes help to educate more than 100 million people worldwide. In addition Pearson provides consultancy services to governments to help them improve their educational systems.
Together with the OECD, Pearson has formed international panels of experts in reading, math’s  and science,global competenceand survey design to define and understand what students should be equipped with towards the end of compulsory education in order to deal with the world of work and further education in the 21st century. Pearson had also been granted the framework development for next year’s PISA 2015 for which they elaborated a new interactive approach to understanding and working with science and addressed students’ abilities and strategies to work collaboratively on solving problems.

3.      For further information, please contact: Pippa Vaux, Director of Media Relations, Pearson pippa.vaux@pearson.com. 

Arab World to have more than 197 million Internet users by 2017, according to Arab Knowledge Economy Report.

·        Arab region’s Internet penetration rate to surge from 32 per cent in 2012 to 51 per cent in 2017, according to Madar-Orient Planet report 
·        Current male literacy rate is 85 per cent, while female literacy is only 68 per cent
·        Four Saudi universities & one from Egypt appears in Shanghai Ranking of World Universities
·        Bahrain tops Arab ICT-use Index 2013 with score of 3.08·        UAE posts 65.68 in 2013-2014 Arab e-Performance Index 

[Dubai, May 27, 2014[ – The number of Internet users in the Arab World is expected to reach 197 million by 2017, a penetration of over 51 per cent from 32 per cent in 2012, according to the first ever Arab Knowledge Economy Report 2014. The Report is a joint study done by Madar Research & Development and Orient Planet with an aim to research and examine the components and characteristics of the Arab Knowledge Economy and its contribution towards the overall development of the region’s economy.
The Arab Knowledge Economy Report 2014 focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of the region’s economy along with the opportunities and risks associated with it. The statistics and other valuable information featured in the report could act as an essential guide for government planners, economists as well as local, regional and global business communities in the move to acquire, create, disseminate and use knowledge more effectively for greater economic and social development.
Abdul Kader Al Kamli, CEO, Madar Research & Development, said: “Some of today’s developing countries will be tomorrow’s vibrant economies in the global market, which makes investment in innovation and education critical for transformation to a knowledge-based economy. The shift is highly significant in the Arab World, as it will enable a landscape of technological innovation, promote competitiveness, and empower local population with professional skills. Having realized the importance of knowledge-based economy in the socio-economic growth of a country, the GCC countries have launched their e-Governance programs, while Dubai, on the other hand, have entered into the next phase with the recent launch of Dubai Smart Governance. We are confident that the first Arab Knowledge Economy Report will be a great reference manual for Arab organizations, as they strategically plan their agenda for smooth transition based on knowledge and innovation. The report will also be useful for multinational corporations and businesses operating in the region along with potential investors in achieving outstanding financial growth.”
 

Nidal Abou Zaki, Managing Director, Orient Planet and Abdul Kader Al Kamli, CEO, Madar Research & Development.

Nidal Abou Zaki, Managing Director, Orient Planet, said: “The 2014 Arab Knowledge Economy Report has been developed with an intention to provide critical and up-to-date information about the region in order to assess its position in terms of forming knowledge economies, which is decisive in formulating the framework to move forward. Our report is especially crucial to the assessment and development of the four major pillars of a knowledge economy; namely, Education and Training, Information Infrastructure, Economic Incentive and Institutional Regime, and Innovation Systems. Most of the Arab countries have made significant progress in establishing a knowledge-based economy and society. With its wealth in natural and financial resources, huge investments in technology infrastructure and visionary leadership, the region is rapidly catching up with progressive countries in terms of digital innovations.”
The report states that the Arab countries are heading towards knowledge economy by improving their education sector through the adoption of new technologies, investment in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure, building firm research and development programs, and improvement in the overall business environment. The public-private partnership (PPP) is required to ensure smooth progress in knowledge related indicators and build an entrepreneurial culture that supports innovation. The UAE leads the Middle East with a global ranking of 38 in overall innovation performance while Dubai is the first city in the region to
establish first knowledge clusters, including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Knowledge Village. The UAE’s transformation to a knowledge-based economy is currently a key priority for the country with several innovations seen across prime economic sectors such as oil & gas, construction, healthcare and hospitality.
Excerpts from 2014 Arab Knowledge Economy Report
GCC GDP and Population Growth
The GCC countries comprise the 12th largest economic region in the world with a recorded Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 4.03 per cent in 2013. The GCC also dominates the Arab World with its GDP of USD 1640.83 billion in 2013. Overall, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) ranks first in the GCC and 19thin the world with USD 745.30 billion as GDP, followed by the UAE with a GDP of USD 398.32 billion. 
GCC GDP Per Capita
Qatar, with a population of 1.91 million, emerges as the richest country per capita in the GCC and the second richest in the world with USD 105,169 in 2013, followed by Kuwait with USD 47,265.
GCC Population Growth
In 2013, the GCC witnessed a population growth of 3.68 per cent with Qatar leading at 11.36 per cent, followed by the UAE at 5 per cent due to the large influx of foreign workers. The local population of the UAE and Qatar comprise of 13 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively, of the total population.
Arab Knowledge Economy Index
The UAE topped the Knowledge Economy Index (KEI) among Arab countries, while it stood at 42 globally with a score of 6.94, closely followed by Bahrain at 6.9 and Oman at 6.14.
Patents in Arab Countries
To date, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have granted 858 patents to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, positioning it 29th in the world. Kuwait is at second place with 272 patents and Egypt at third with 212 patents, so far. 
Arab e-Performance Index
Madar Research & Development and Orient Planet have created a new Arab e-Performance Index based on six important global indexes, which includes the Global Competitiveness Index, Networked Readiness Index (NRI), ICT Development Index (IDI), Global Innovation Index, Knowledge Economy Index (KEI), and e-Government Development Index. For the Arab e-Performance Index for 2013-2014, Bahrain leads the GCC with an average of 66.55 followed by the UAE at 65.68. 
Arab ICT-use Index
Bahrain has topped the 2013 ICT-use Index with a score of 3.08. It has emerged among top five in all the ICT sectors, including first in the Internet user’s rate and second in mobile penetration level in the MENA region. Qatar takes the second place with 2.96, having the third highest mobile penetration and fourth in internet user’s rate.
Arab Internet Population Overview
There were 111,721,020 internet users in 18 Arab countries in 2012, growing at a rate of 18.98 per cent as compared to 93,896,216 in 2011. The number of internet users in the region is expected to increase to about 197 million by 2017. Internet penetration in the Arab world is expected to surge from 32 per cent in 2012 to 51 per cent in 2017, amounting to three per cent above the world average.
Adult Literacy Rate
Adult literacy remains a major hurdle for the development of the information society and knowledge-based economy in the Arab region. In the age group of 15 and above, the literacy rate was nearly 77 per cent in 2011. Six countries, including Qatar’s 96.3 per cent and Jordan’s 95.9 per cent, have shown a success rate of 90 per cent and above for the period with. There is also a huge discrepancy between the male and female literacy rate, wherein the male literacy rate is around 85 per cent and only 68 per cent for females.  
ICT Price Basket as a Percentage of Monthly Minimum Wages
The ICT price basket includes three tariff sets – fixed telephone, mobile phone and fixed broadband internet services. Qatar ranks first in the Arab World and 2nd globally when Gross National Income (GNI) is compared with the ICT price basket, with 0.4 per cent of monthly GNI per capita spent on ICT services. The UAE, on the other hand, ranks 2nd in the Arab World with 0.5 per cent spent on ICT services. When the minimum wage is compared with ICT price basket, Qatar ranks 11thin the Arab World with 12.2 per cent of minimum wage spent on ICT services while the UAE is at the bottom with 15.4 per cent of minimum wage spent on ICT services.
Academic Ranking of Arab Universities
In 2013, five Arab universities, including four from Saudi Arabia and one from Egypt, appeared on the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities. The universities are the King Saud University, the King Abdul Aziz University, the King Fahd University of Petroleum, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

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Lack of essential digital proficiency marked as major obstacle for job seekers in GCC.

Ezzo: Being ready for today’s job market requires more than knowledge in Internet, email and common office applications
  
UAE, April 22, 2014 – ICDL GCC Foundation, an organisation dedicated to promoting digital skills and cyber safety for-all across the Gulf region, has announced that fresh university graduates in the GCC are likely to face stiff challenges in securing good employment opportunities due to their lack of readiness with the essential ICT skills required by today’s job market. ICDL further stated that this is due to technology progressing much faster than education, and hence, our region’s education system falls short of providing students with the relevant skills needed in the 21st century workplace.

In a world where even job seeking is increasingly changing, a job seeker must possess the skills to leverage ICT in the job search. A job seeker must be able to use the available online search tools, upload a CV on the various job portals, and utilize the popular social media platforms. According to a digital literacy survey provided in 2013 Prince’s Trust Report, one in 10 unemployed young individuals cannot even send their CV online, while more than one in six believe they would be in work today if they had better computer skills. With this alarming problem facing the world’s job seekers, let alone our own, the education system must prepare teachers to deliver the needed skills to students and must incorporate practical ICT training in the curricula before students graduate.
Major changes in ICT are happening and happening too fast, evidenced by the introduction of technologies relevant to cloud computing, cyber safety, IT security, social media, collaboration, and web meeting. Employers in the public and private sectors are pushing to leverage these technologies in order to become more cost-efficient and customer service oriented. These rapid changes have also brought about drastic shifts in the GCC’s job landscape. According to the European Commission Digital Agenda, 90 per cent of jobs will need at least a reasonable level of ICT skills by 2015.
Jamil Ezzo, Director General of ICDL GCC Foundation, emphasised on the need of equipping the youth with the relevant ICT skills to ensure their readiness for today’s workplace. He said: “Being ready for today’s job market requires a bit more than knowledge in using the Internet, email and the common office applications. Employers are demanding ICT skills that are aligned with the latest technologies, they are employing. The education system in the GCC must keep up with these technological developments and fully understand the region’s job market demands to ensure that graduates are ready with the skills to be able to take the first step in their careers.”   
“ICDL GCC Foundation has been working in collaboration with qualification and educational regulators to implement various internationally recognized computer certification programs that help GCC Nationals to be skilled, re-skilled and up skilled in line with the latest international trends in ICT training and certification. As the GCC moves towards knowledge-based economy, it is imperative the GCC workforce are trained with the latest digital skills for functional industry experience to give a boost to the policy of Nationalization” concluded Ezzo.
Driven by the emerging trends and latest technologies, ICDL has revealed recently a new structure for its ICT certification offering prospective employees as well as employers the flexibility, diversity and relevance to acquire the ICT skills they need. The New ICDL is currently being widely reviewed and accepted by schools around the world and particularly in the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. 
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About ICDL:

The International Computer Driving License (ICDL) is a global computer literacy initiative developed to provide knowledge about Information Technology (IT) and enhance competence of using personal computers and common computer applications for all the citizens of the world. The ICDL GCC Foundation is the sole body to implement and disseminate the program across the GCC States and Iraq with the support of leading educational institutions and accredited bodies. The Foundation mission is to enable proficient use of Information and Communications Technology that empowers individuals, organizations and society, through the development, promotion and delivery of quality certification programmes around the world. 

Pearson Commits to Improving English Language Learning Outcomes in Arab World.

Uptake of English language and national economic prosperity linked
Dubai, UAE, 17 April 2014:An English language expert from Pearson, the world’s largest learning company, says English language instruction in the Arab world should be measurably improving the learning outcomes of English language students in the region.

Dr John de Jong, Pearson’s Senior Vice President for Standards and Quality and Chair in Language Testing at Amsterdam’s VU University, says that Pearson is publically committed to ensuring all its products and services have a positive impact on advancing the educational results of those that use them. Dr de Jong says that this ‘Efficacy Commitment’ is particularly important for Pearson’s English language portfolio, which is used by millions of learners around the world.
“At present, there are approximately two billion people around the globe who are learning English – that means it is incredibly important that English language products and services are effective in making a real difference to the lives of those that use them. The portion of those two billion people who are using Pearson products and services can be assured that their products and services are being reviewed against rigorous, objective efficacy standards. For example, a recent efficacy review of Pearson’s English language learning programmes has led to more sophisticated data and learning analytics being employed in these programmes, driving far greater personalisation – and ultimately leading to enhanced learning outcomes for those using the programmes”.
Dr de Jong was in Dubai recently presenting at the Global Education Forum. He used the opportunity to illustrate the new Global Scale of English (GSE), a Pearson initiative that fits with the company’s commitment to demonstrably improving learning outcomes. The GSE and the associated measurement instrument, Progress, allow for a more detailed, personalised assessment of an English learners’ level of ability, helping educators to more accurately target their learners’ specific learning needs and areas for improvement. The GSE has been designed to give a more precise portrayal of a learner’s level and progress than other systems that are currently available. Dr de Jong says the aim is to encourage the profiling of learners, rather than classifying them by level.
“Maximising the uptake of English language skills is becoming increasingly important, particularly in countries like the UAE, where school leavers and graduates with strong English abilities are more likely to succeed in the world of work.  It is undoubtedly true that in today’s world being able to use English will open up the world to an individual, helping them (amongst other things) perform well in international business communications”.
Dr de Jong also says that a country’s success in the world economy largely depends on whether that country can improve the overall level of English amongst its student population.
“Those Arab countries that have the fastest growing economies and where international trade and commerce are having the greatest positive effects on the lives of citizens are where English language is being taught effectively throughout all levels of the education system. There is a clear relationship between how many people in a country speak English and how fast that country is moving ahead in economic terms. This is evident in the UAE where people have remarkably high levels of English. The country has decided that it wants to be open to the world but understands that in order to do so a significant percentage of the population must be able to speak the language of the world – English. What Pearson wants to do is help ensure the English learning that is taking place is as effective as possible and is having the greatest possible impact on improving the lives of learners. Pearson is realising this goal by placing greater emphasis on definition of learning outcomes in the English education field – making it easier to measure the impact of the learning taking place and powering data-driven decision making”.
ENDS
About Pearson:
Pearson is the world’s largest learning company, operating in more than 80 countries around the world, bringing powerful learning solutions to millions of learners every year. Pearson takes learning personally. Our courses and resources are available in print, online and through multi-lingual packages, helping people learn whatever, wherever and however they choose. Our education imprints combine 150 years of experience and include online support for every learner.  Our innovative and dynamic digital learning products and services are changing the learning landscape all around the globe and our qualifications are positively transforming the futures of learners of all ages and backgrounds.  Pearson can boast a comprehensive English Language offering that consists of engaging content and cutting edge testing solutions. To find out more, visit www.pearson.com

Lower Internet rates to boost Smart Government Services in GCC, says ICDL.

 Recent report shows GCC Data Service rates higher than USA and UK
]UAE, March 25, 2014[ICDL GCC Foundation, an organisation that promotes digital skills and cyber safety across the Gulf region and Iraq, has called for lower rates of Internet services to broaden the adoption of the countrys’ Smart Government services. Lower Internet charges will undoubtedly promote the subscription of data packages by the masses, which is highly important for Smart and e-Services to reach out to each and every member of society.

ICDL has lauded the efforts undertaken by regional governments toward building an integrated digital system, which is accompanied with the aim to boost the Smart Government’s e- and m-Services. In fact, the regional governments have registered their highest levels of ICT investment in 2013. For example, billions of dollars were spent to attain computer literacy with Kuwait taking the lead at USD 28 billion followed by Saudi Arabia at USD 4.8 billion. Qatar and the UAE take third and fourth place with a total spending of USD 3 billion and USD 2.7 billion, respectively. These figures highlight the efforts of GCC governments to create a skilled digital community capable of boosting the economy and adapting to the latest ICT tools and techniques.  
On the other hand, ICDL also pointed out that governments should take effective measures to bring down the high data service rates to make them more affordable for all Internet users. According to a recent study conducted by the ICDL GCC Foundation, the rates for data service in the GCC are still high in comparison to other countries and diverse among each other as well. The high service charges inhibit users’ ability to subscribe to data packages which can hamper the success of the GCC’s Smart Governance agendas. Alternatively, affordable data service charges will result in greater participation in Smart and e-Services.
According to the study, the rates of monthly mobile Internet data for 1GB in Saudi Arabia starts from AED 23.5, AED 47.7 in Oman, AED 63.3 in Qatar, and AED 100 in the UAE. The mobile data packages in Kuwait start at AED 104.03/month for 6 GB while it is AED 195.35/month in Bahrain for an unlimited data. A similar monthly package is offered for AED 128.56 for unlimited GB plus 300 minutes calls in the USA, while it is AED 72.02 for 1 GB with a free phone plus 100 minutes calls in the UK.
In the Home Broadband category, the monthly rates starts at AED 149 for unlimited capacity in the UAE, AED 85.86 for 1 GB in Oman, AED 201.72 for 15 GB in Qatar, AED 68.20 for 5 GB in Bahrain and AED 208.10 for 30 GB in Kuwait. Similar monthly package is offered for AED 91.83 for 1.5 GB in the USA and AED 30 in the UK.
Indeed services for mobile data packages and home broadband connections command a higher price in the GCC when compared with the USA and the UK. The GCC government must proactively work on long-term strategic objectives to establish public private partnerships that will eventually help to bring down telecommunication rates in the region. Better coordination and collaboration between government and Internet service providers will also help in bridging this gap.
Jamil Ezzo, Director General of ICDL GCC Foundation, said: “The governments of the GCC have launched Smart and e-Services for the benefits of its people and visitors. However, high telecommunication rates acts as a major obstacle for people to access to these services. There is a greater need for affordable telecom services so that people from all walks of life can have easier access to the Internet. ICDL GCC Foundation proposes cooperation between the public and the private sectors to devise solutions to make data service affordable and accessible in the GCC so that each household has an Internet connection and every smartphone user has access to a mobile data package.” 
ICDL GCC Foundation has been spearheading regional initiatives to place IT security and cyber-safety at the top of government agendas across the region. It has been supporting a wide-scale implementation of awareness programs, including skills validation through training and certification programs centering on IT Security, Cyber Safety and the effective, safe, responsible and mindful use of Social Media. The Foundation continues to collaborate closely with the concerned authorities and experts to further elevate the level of IT security awareness among the public.
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About ICDL:

The International Computer Driving License (ICDL) is a global computer literacy initiative developed to provide knowledge about Information Technology (IT) and enhance competence of using personal computers and common computer applications for all the citizens of the world. The ICDL GCC Foundation is the sole body to implement and disseminate the program across the GCC States and Iraq with the support of leading educational institutions and accredited bodies. The Foundation mission is to enable proficient use of Information and Communications Technology that empowers individuals, organizations and society, through the development, promotion and delivery of quality certification programmes around the world. 

International education experts stress the link between quality teachers and learner success.

Reducing Region’s Teacher Gap is Critical to Improving Student Outcomes
Dubai, UAE, 31 March 2014: The Arab world’s growing teacher shortage threatens to overshadow the region’s educational gains and therefore needs to be addressed quickly and effectively, says the Managing Director of Pearson in the Middle East, Mr Karim Daoud.

According to a recent report from Deloitte, if the teacher gap is to be eradicated, 75,000 new educators will need to be hired by 2015 in the UAE alone. And the outlook is even more worrying for the region as a whole. Projections undertaken in 2013 by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics indicate that 1.6 million new teaching posts will need to be created by 2015 in the Arab world if universal education is to be achieved – and that figure is likely to increase to 3.3 million by 2030 if drastic measures are not taken.
Teacher shortages are a global problem compounded by a growing number of retirement age teachers and a record number of children entering education. But it is a problem that is felt particularly deeply in the Arab world, where there is a rapidly growing school age population, expected to soon reach 9.5 million. Demand for secondary teachers in this region is greater than primary teachers, due to more subject-specific instruction and longer teaching hours.
Reducing the teacher shortage will be critical to improving the region’s performance in educational rankings such as the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessments (PISA). Moving upwards on globally recognised educational tables is a key priority of some governments in the region, including the UAE. Mr Daoud says that achieving education targets set by governments in the Arab world will be in large part dependent on those countries’ education systems attracting and retaining sufficient teaching talent.
“In 2013 Pearson conducted a far-reaching global study into what helps promote good learning, called the Learning Curve. The report brought together an extensive set of internationally comparable data on education inputs and outputs, covering 50 countries. One of the key findings of this vast study was that there is no substitute for good teachers. Teachers have a profound influence – and having a better one is statistically linked to not only a higher income later on in life, but a range of improved social results. The world’s most successful systems have a number of things in common, including the ability to find ways to attract the best people to the teaching profession and the ability to provide relevant, ongoing training to teachers throughout their careers”.
Amanda Collins, Pearson’s Professional Development Director in the Middle East says that a solution to the teacher shortage does not simply lie in producing more teachers. She says that to make a real difference to students’ educational attainment, teachers must be rigorously trained, well-qualified and undergo regular professional development.
“Good teachers are essential to high quality education. According to the Learning Curve research, finding and retaining great teachers is not only a question of high pay. Rather, teachers need to be treated as the valuable professions that they are, and not as technicians in a huge, educational machine”.
Collins says that there is no silver-bullet solution to the problem, and that a concerted effort from policy makers, teacher training institutions and the education system itself will be required. She pointed to the admirable work the UAE Government’s Ministry of Education has been undertaking to improve the standard of teaching in the country and keep the best teachers in the system.
“The Ministry of Education is actively committed to retaining its talent through its professional development programmes. The Ministry, like other education agencies throughout the region, is looking to ‘professionalise’ the teaching profession by introducing new teaching and Principal standards.

“For example, Pearson is working with the Ministry to deliver an internationally accredited School Leadership Programme that will see more than 700 principals and teachers receive a globally recognised leadership qualification. The programme has been developed to address the needs of the UAE’s education system and designed to meet Pearson’s stringent efficacy standards – assessing the impact of the programme on raising the learning outcomes of students in the UAE. We believe that through quality initiatives such as this we can improve retention rates of teachers and produce highly effective teachers that will have a positive impact on young learners in the Arab world”.

ICDL GCC Foundation supports 2014 Safer Internet Day.

Reiterates concern about safety of cyber citizens as part of celebration
]UAE, February 10, 2014[The ICDL GCC Foundation, an organisation that promotes digital skills and cyber safety across the Gulf region and Iraq, has extended its support to the “2014 Safer Internet Day”, an annual global campaign promoting the safe and responsible use of online technology, especially among youth. This year’s event will be celebrated in over 100 countries tomorrow, February 11, 2014, under the theme ‘Let’s create a better internet together.’ It will focus on the online domain, which has emerged the latest and the best medium for information, communication and entertainment, and will discuss the roles and responsibilities of internet users in creating a safer cyber world.

As a staunch advocate of cyber safety, ICDL GCC Foundation continuously conducts campaigns on safe Internet etiquettes, digital safety education and appropriate online behavior. It has recently launched Cyber Safety Workshops targeting law enforcement, government, educational, teachers, parents and youth across the GCC. The Foundation has also distributed to students among many schools in the region free guidebooks on 101 tips on Internet etiquettes and the responsible use of social media and other smart technologies. The pocket guide, which was distributed for example in UAE in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior’s Child Protection Center, was aimed at educating children along with their parents and teachers about cyber safety. 
Jamil Ezzo, Director General of ICDL GCC Foundation, said: “Our increasing reliance on Internet in our daily life has spurred considerable growth in cyber crimes, with children and youth the most vulnerable group to these threats. ICDL has always championed greater awareness on cyber safety and advocated for the implementation of stringent laws to the concerned authorities. By supporting “Safer Internet Day 2014”, we reiterate our concern for the safety of cyber citizens. Through our workshops and programs, which we organize on a regular basis, we strive to empower all Internet users, particularly children, in the region with Internet best practices to avoid all forms of cyber threats.”
Safer Internet Day is organized by Insafe, a network of European Safer Internet Centers, to encourage safe and positive use of the internet and digital technologies. It started in 2004 as an initiative of the EU Safe Boarders project and gradually gained popularity across the globe. Now in its 11thedition, Safer Internet Day is expected to be celebrated by over 10 million people worldwide.  For more information, log on to: http://www.saferinternetday.org.

ICDL GCC Foundation has been spearheading regional initiatives to place IT security and cyber-safety at the top of government agendas across the region. It has been supporting a wide scale implementation of awareness programs including skills validation through training and international certification programs centering on IT Security, Cyber Safety and the effective, safe, responsible and mindful use of Social Media. The Foundation continues to collaborate closely with the concerned authorities and experts to further elevate the level of awareness among the public.

ALHOSN University receives delegation from Association of Arab Universities (AARU).

February 10, 2014
Al Hosn University recently received a delegation from the Association of Arab Universities (AARU). Established in 1964, AARU is an organisation working within the framework of the Arab League. Its objective is to support and connect universities in the Arab world with a view towards raising the quality of higher education.

The delegation included Prof. Sultan Abuorabi Al Adwan, Secretary General of the Association of Arab Universities; Prof. Mustafa Idris Al Basher, Assistant Secretary;  Prof. Abdelrahim Mohamed Al Amin, President of Alghurair University; and Ms. Manal Ahmed Al Sharairi, Association of Arab Universities.
The delegation was welcomed by H.E. Prof. Munther Talal Momany, Vice Chancellor and CEO of Al Hosn, Dr. Adel Khelifi, Provost for Academic Affairs, Dr. Marco Savic, Provost for Quality Assurance and Development, and Deans and Department Heads of the university’s various faculties. This was followed by an extensive tour of the university and its facilities. Later that evening the group had an opportunity to do some sightseeing with a visit to Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque and a short tour of Abu Dhabi city.
On day two of the visit Prof. Sultan Abuorabi Al Adwan honoured Al Hosn Staff and faculty along with VIP guests at an open lecture delivered at the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry headquarters. Titled “Higher Education and Scientific Research in the Arab World,” the lecture provided interesting insights on the history of Arab education, its present status, and the challenges it faces.  An interactive question and answer session where the audience actively participated and expressed their views followed.

Lunch was served afterwards at the Chamber and provided delegates and members of the audience an  opportunity to mingle and chat. The visit has further strengthened and enhanced the relationship between Al Hosn and the Association. 

California is most sought-after state among UAE students pursuing higher education in US.

Home to world’s top universities, California exposes UAE students to several quality institutions of higher learning
Dubai, UAE, 18 December 2013: Carian College Advisors, a specialist American education consultancy headquartered in Dubai, has named California as the No. 1 choice of students from the UAE pursuing higher education in the United States, based on the list of clients they served in 2013. Peter Davos, Managing Director, Carian College Advisors, says the choice comes as no surprise to him as California is renowned for the quality of its higher education system, its attractive climate and excellent quality of life. “California is by far our students’ most popular destination; it is home to some of the world’s top universities, such as Stanford University, Harvey Mudd College, California Institute of Technology, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Pomona College and Claremont McKenna College.”

Davos stated “Stanford University has surpassed Harvard University this year as the most difficult university in the US to be accepted to, while Harvey Mudd College graduates earn the highest average salaries of any university in the US.  California Institute of Technology was ranked as the Best University in the World in the 2011 Times Higher Education World University Rankings in Engineering & Technology and Physical Sciences and both Pomona and Claremont McKenna are ranked among the top ten liberal arts schools in the US by US News and World report.”
With over 4,000 degree-granting institutions of higher learning in the US in 50 states, Carian College Advisors caters to the varied needs and preferences of UAE students. Davos added “the US remains one of the world’s leading destinations for students living in the UAE. Our clients from all over the world continue to choose the US over other countries because of its flexible curriculum, interdisciplinary approach to education and emphasis on holistic development of the individual.  The United States is one of the most culturally diverse and inclusive societies in the world, having welcomed visitors and students from foreign countries for centuries. The most popular majors for UAE students are Business and Management, Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science.”
Davos’ consultancy offers a range of admission counseling services for UAE students targeting the US for further studies. During 2013, Carian College Advisors’ UAE students secured admission to many leading US universities, such as Georgetown, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Cornell, Yale, Brown, Colorado School of Mines, Columbia, University of California Los Angeles,  and New York University.
Davos emphasized that his firm guides UAE students wishing to pursue a US education. He added, “With plenty of top US universities to choose from, the task of choosing the right one does definitely require immense effort, expertise, and knowledge and students and parents rely on us to guide them. There is an appetite for American education in this region, as well as for quality advice on how to pursue the research and application processes, which has thus far been lacking in the market.”
Davos said that flexibility is one of the key factors why UAE students favor the American education system, as students are encouraged to take a broad array of courses and are only required to declare their major at the end of their second year of study.  American universities encourage these exploration and development processes and view it as an inherent part of an undergraduate education. Students at American universities are allowed to choose a minor, double major, or triple major, as long as they fulfill the stipulated course requirements.

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Regionally contextualised resources boost student engagement in Gulf region.

Pearson Offers Arab Specific Learning Resources
  
Dubai, UAE, 26 November 2013: Pearson, the world’s largest learning company, has pledged its commitment to providing learners in the Gulf region with culturally relevant and contextualised educational resources.

Mr Nigel Kelly, who leads Pearson’s portfolio for schools in the Middle East, says learning materials that have been developed especially for regional students allow for better student engagement in the learning process and higher achievement levels. He says:
“Students are more likely to reach their potential in the classroom when they are taught using learning resources that take into account their background and experiences. Resources that use examples, images and language familiar to students help them better relate to the learning content, and therefore more likely to assimilate and recall new information”.
Mr Kelly made these comments as Pearson announced its Social Studies for Saudi Arabia series has been adapted so that it now caters for learners from kindergarten to grade eight. The series had previously only been available for students up to grade five. A Social Studies text for the entire Gulf is also currently under development.
Pearson also offers the My Gulf World and Me series, which includes six levels of carefully leveled readers that provide a clear progression path for school-age students developing the basics of the English language. The books feature local, everyday words, visual themes and topics taken from the Middle East to give children the opportunity to engage with key learning areas. The series also offers an activity book for each level to consolidate learning and encourage the application of core skills, grammar, speaking, listening, writing and comprehension.
The author, Kate Riddle says she has seen the difference these texts can make to the learning experiences of students in the Gulf:
“It is fantastic to see how excited students become when they read books that contain photos and information that relate to their daily lives in the Middle East. Immediately their interest is heightened, and they are motivated to continue reading and learning.”
Since 2011, Pearson has also offered a series of academic textbooks especially created for Arab university students known as the Arab World Editions. The collection encompasses 16 titles, across a range of disciplines including Finance, Accounting, Mathematics, Science, Business and Marketing. The collection consists of brand new titles as well as Arab adaptions of popular international texts. The author of the Arab World Edition of Introduction to Mathematical Analysis, Professor Saadia Khouyibaba, says that the collection meets strong demand in the region for textbooks and accompanying resources that are developed and written by academics that live and work in the region and that understand the unique learning needs of regional students.
“For the first time, Arab students have access to high quality learning resources, created by leading international experts that take into account the unique cultural, religious, political and economic circumstances of the region. By using examples taken from Arab companies, interviews with Arab business people and case studies of Arab examples, students from the region are more engaged with their learning and therefore motivated to achieve better grades. Regionally tailored resources also provide students with knowledge that will be more relevant to their future careers in this region”.
Sue Mainey, who is responsible for marketing the Arab World Editions for Pearson, believes that it is not only the texts themselves that have made this collection so popular, but the accompanying materials that have also been tailored to meet the learning needs of students in the region.
“Feedback we have received from lecturers using the Arab World Editions is that the Arabized accompanying resources, which include the online homework and teaching tool, MyLabs, make the whole learning process a dynamic and engaging experience for students. Lecturers have recorded significant improvements to student performance after using these products, which indicates the efficacy of the texts and support materials in make a real difference to student outcomes”.
Mr Kelly says that Pearson is confident these regionally tailored resources, will continue to have a positive impact on the learning outcomes of students across the Gulf region.
“Pearson works all around the world to bring educational solutions to millions of people every day. This far reaching experience has shown us that the best learning takes place when it is relevant to those undertaking it. Therefore, I believe that these contextualised learning tools will make a real and lasting difference to learners in this region, helping them to meet their learning goals and realise their ambitions”.

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