Pearson launches new Global English Language Teacher Award in the Middle East.

Award will recognise teachers in the region who go ‘above and beyond’.

UAE: Pearson ELT has launched a new award to celebrate inspirational teachers. The global Award will showcase teachers from the Middle East, and around the world, who have implemented innovative ways of teaching in their classrooms leading to improved learning outcomes; from the big innovations to the everyday.

Pearson expects to see a great response from the Middle East, where teachers are adopting new digital tools, implementing new ideas and coming up with innovative solutions that improve outcomes for their learners. With a growing recognition of the importance of English language skills, the Award recognises the crucial role that teachers from all walks of English teaching play.
English language is a major educational growth area right across the Middle East, as English language skills are increasingly seen by employers as an important way in which to grow business in a global environment. As a result, quality English language teachers are in demand, and this award will help to identify those teachers who excel in their role.
Sue Mainey, Director of Marketing for Pearson in the Middle East said; “English language is an important aspect of all levels of education, as it is a means through which individuals can progress their learning, as well as their prospects of career success. It is therefore critical that we have a body of first-class English language teachers available to schools, colleges and universities, so that our region’s learners are given the best prospects of success. This award will pay homage to those teachers who go above and beyond and who are helping to raise standards across the profession”.
Entries will be judged by a panel of experts from within the ELT community who will be looking for examples of best practice and innovative approaches to improving learner outcomes. Five inspiring teachers will each win an all-expenses paid trip to the forthcoming IATEFL or TESOL conferences where they will enjoy the opportunity to hear the latest theories and exchange ideas with fellow professionals from all sectors of ELT.
In addition, a People’s Choice winner will be selected by a public vote from the entries submitted. The winner will receive 20 Kindles for their class pre-loaded with a selection of Pearson English Readers. Teachers can self-submit entries or nominate colleagues for the award from now until 1 January 2017 via the Pearson ELT website. The winners will be announced on 25 January 2017.
Giles Grant, Senior Vice President ELT at Pearson said; “Behind every successful learner there’s a teacher providing fuel and encouragement along the way. This new award will celebrate teachers from all walks of English teaching, particularly those implementing new ideas, adapting tools or creating their own solutions to improve the learner experience“.
Visit Pearson ELT for more information on the Pearson ELT Global Teacher Award.
About Pearson:
Pearson is the world’s learning company, with expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology.
Our mission is to help people make progress through access to better learning. We believe that learning opens up opportunities, creating fulfilling careers and better lives. For more, visit
Pearson English is a division of Pearson and more than 1.5 million teachers and 35 million students use our English language learning resources and tools each year. We offer dynamic and effective learning solutions to individuals, institutions and corporations in over 150 countries.
Our key businesses include: Wall Street English (centre based learning for consumers) and ELT (institutional English language publications including brands such as Longman). In 2013, Pearson acquired Grupo Multi, the leading adult English Language Training company in Brazil.

Education expert: Regional workforce development depends on improvements to vocational training.

Gulf Education Conference and Exhibition Examines Importance of Vocational Education
Dubai, UAE, 22 March 2015: Delegates at the Gulf Education Conference and Exhibition have heard continued development of the GCC’s workforce depends on improving the quality and accessibility of vocational education in the region.

The Conference, held in Dubai, has brought together Education Ministers from across the region, along with global experts in education. The focus of this year’s event has been on vocational education and employer engagement with education providers – issues of great relevance to governments and educators throughout the region.
Sue Parker, Principal of Saudi Arabia’s Pearson TQ Colleges of Excellence in Buraidah, Mecca and Madinah, led a panel discussion at the Conference, calling for greater emphasis to be placed on vocational education in the development of the region’s education systems. Ms Parker said:
“For years now, employers have complained that new workforce entrants are ill-prepared for the demands of modern, globally orientated workforces. At the heart of the problem is a mismatch between supply and demand – that is, the type of workers education systems are producing, and the type of workers employers need. For too long, vocational education has been neglected in the region, as our young people follow education paths that fail to align with governments’ economic goals or boost productivity in the labour force. There is a clear need for a greater number of vocationally qualified graduates in the workforce, skilled in key industries, from oil and gas to building and construction. The lack of suitably qualified candidates available is in part to blame for the region’s higher than average rates of youth unemployment and underemployment, and is having a detrimental impact on the ability of Arab governments to achieve their long-term economic visions”.
Ms Parker says lessons learnt in other countries act as a useful guide in helping the GCC overcome educational and employment challenges.
“Singapore has one of the best vocational systems in the world, but this has not always been the case. Singapore invested heavily in linking educational programmes with employer needs, and importantly, on raising the status of vocational education amongst the population. Vocational education suffers from an unfortunate stigma, where it is seen as a lesser alternative to university. However, what we are seeing in the GCC is that those students who undertake recognized vocational qualifications often find meaningful work faster than those who have undertaken a university degree, and achieve quicker career progression and report greater job satisfaction”.
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

“We are on the verge of big changes in assessment”, says new report by education experts;

Top performing countries have hit a ‘performance ceiling’according to a new report released today.
Dubai, UAE, 24 December 2014: ‘Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment’, published today by the world’s largest learning company Pearson,and written by Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, Sir Michael Barber and renowned assessment expert, Dr Peter Hill, says that new technologies will transform assessment and testing in education.

According to the authors:
       Adaptive testing (for example, tests that evolve in real time on screen) will help generate more accurate tests and reduce the amount of time schools spend on testing
       Smarter, automated marking of exams will help improve accuracy and reduce the time teachers spend marking “rote” answers
       Technology will help combine student performance across multiple papers and subjects.
       Assessment will provide on-going feedback, which, will helppersonalise teaching and improve learning.
       New digital technologies will minimise opportunities for cheating in exams or “gaming the system”.
The report argues that current assessment methods are no longer working, so that even the top performing education systems in the world, have hit a performance ceiling.
It concludes that governments, schools and those within them need to prepare themselves for this assessment renaissance.
Pearson expects governments and educators in the Arab world to take interest in the report, given the region’s willingness to embrace new technologies to drive improved outcomes for learners.
MrKarimDaoud, Managing Director of Pearson in the Middle East said:
“This region has been one of the fastest in the world to embrace new digital innovations in the education field and ensure that these innovations are used to promote a student’s uptake of skills and knowledge.
Government agencies, in their pursuit of realising the goals set out in their countries’ national visions, have looked to the latest thinking and developments in education to help build robust, knowledge-driven economies and societies.
This report demonstrates how technology can be harnessed to meet these goals by optimising the assessment process. It also provides a Framework for Action, showing the region’s educators and policy makers how student performance can be more accurately and meaningfully assessed and how tracking student outcomes can be done more efficiently and precisely”.
Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson and co-author of the report said:
“We are about to see big changes in the possibilities of assessment as a result of technology. Current assessment systems around the world are deeply wedded to traditional testing and exams and, some might argue, are holding us back from potential reforms. We should seize the opportunity and not cling to the past.
“By using technology smartly, better assessment could improve teachers’ teaching, by giving them richer data. The biggest change created by the forthcoming assessment renaissance could be a vast improvement in teaching and therefore a big improvement in learner outcomes.”
Dr Peter Hill, assessment expert and co-author of the report said:
“This renaissance will bring about a ‘rebirth’ of the core purposes of assessment that will lead to a much better alignment with the curriculum and with teaching and learning.
“Assessment is only one aspect of education but it is often one of the most influential and controversial and we believe that the transformation we want to see across education will be held up unless we release the power of assessment to bring about improvements in learning.”
Notes to Editors:
1.     Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning.
2.     Sir Michael Barber joined Pearson in September 2011 as Chief Education Advisor, leading Pearson’s worldwide programme of efficacy and research. He plays a particular role in Pearson’s strategy for education in the developing world, and is Chairman of the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund. Prior to Pearson, he was a Partner at McKinsey & Company and Head of McKinsey’s global education practice. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Exeter and the University of Wales.
He previously served the UK government as Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (from 2001-2005) and as Chief Adviser to the Secretary of State for Education on School Standards (from 1997-2001). Before joining government he was a professor at the Institute of Education at the University of London. He is the author of several books including Instruction to Deliver; Deliverology 101; The Learning Game: Arguments for an Education Revolution and The Making of the 1944 Education Act.
3.     Dr Peter Hill has held senior positions in education in Australia, the USA and Hong Kong, including as Chief Executive of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Board, Chief General Manager of the Department of School Education in Victoria, Australia, Professor of Leadership and Management at the University of Melbourne, Director of Research and Development at the National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington DC, Secretary General of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority and Chief Executive of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.

He is currently a consultant advising on system reform in the areas of curriculum, assessment and certification. He has published numerous research articles and co-authored with Michael Fullan and Carmel Crévola the award-winning book, Breakthrough, published by Corwin Press. to launch region’s first-of-its-kind online Arab platform to allow more collaboration and self-development among educators

Launch accompanied by release of ‘Akyumen Falcon,’ the world’s first patented projector educational tablet 
November 26, 2014, an initiative aimed at raising the bar on education quality in the Arab World, has revealed its plans to launch the region’s first-of-its-kind online Arab platform that will allow more self-development among educators and encourages increased collaboration across educational and academic projects. The announcement was made during a press conference held today (November 26, 2014) at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The privately owned regional corporation, which is headquartered in the UAE and has regional offices in Jordan, aims to create an Arabian parallel knowledge exchange community of experienced providers/educators and knowledge learners to enhance learning outcomes and bridge the gap on skills required in private sector. Looking to reinforce their efforts among local knowledge experts, will also be exclusively releasing the ‘Akyumen Falcon,’ the world’s first-ever patented projector-equipped educational tablet.

According to Mr. Isam Shahwan, CEO and Founder, will offer educators and knowledge experts key advantages like the ability to promote themselves online—creating more visibility through their profiles, along with their achievements as educators and knowledge experts. Organizations can also tap into the online platform to recruit top talent. acts as a strategic tool that allows for knowledge masters to create a side income based on their skills and value through the exchange of knowledge and expertise. The concept is similar to the Gerson Lehrman Group where knowledge experts are tapped for their knowledge and compensated for their services. In addition, the online portal will offer other services and products like virtual labs, an educational gaming portal, knowledge center, virtual educational institutions and an online community of fellow educators. will also feature an online store offering a wide range of products such as books, gadgets, and learning devices.
“We are pleased to announce the launch of, a new online portal that will definitely bring a big boost to the careers of educators in the region,” said Eng. Sobhi Batterjee, Chairman,“This strategic online platform falls in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to fully develop the country’s academic and educational segments. As such, we are also releasing the Akyumen Falcon—a revolutionary new tablet that reflects our commitment towards introducing more modern ways in improving the value of knowledge providers and learning mediums.”
Mr. Shahwan further shared that the launching of the first phase of the new online portal is set to target the K12 Arab markets, which are currently made up of more than 62 million students and seven million educators. The second phase of the launch is expected to reach out to students from Higher Education via a B2B offering that is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2015. The portal is also looking to capture Arabic expatriate communities in the West as a means to address the demand for these services. As an example, the United States, Canada, The United Kingdom, and rest of West Europe currently have a community of over 50 million Muslim residents with an approximate figure of 5 million students in K12 who badly need to tap education and knowledge experts in the areas of Arabic and Islamic studies.
The Akyumen Falcon Tablet is a portable, lightweight, and easy-to-use tablet, ideal for today’s various education needs. The tablet offers key features like HD quality, bright projection technology and high capacity memory. The new device comes with a memory of 64 GB, which can also accommodate a 128 GB microSD card; 1080 P high definition projection; 50+ lumens for its projector light; an eight megapixel front and back camera and a two GB plus six GB memory partitioned RAM.
“Akyumen is honoured to be working closely and exclusively with—whose efforts to put the spotlight on Arab knowledge experts are truly commendable. In line with this, we are collaborating with for the release of the Akyumen Falcon Tablet, a revolutionary device that is expected to enhance the educator-learner learning experience. This new tablet will also be seeing its global launch at next year’s edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (Mobile Congress 2015) in Barcelona, where we will be showcasing the unique features of this device and its strength as a strategic learning device,” concluded Mustafa Saied, CEO for Latin America, MENA and Europe, Akyumen. 
About is a privately held regional corporation aiming to create an Arabian parallel knowledge exchange community of knowledge experts and knowledge seekers/students, in cost effective, and practical manner through the’sonline platform and its complimentary services. Founded by Chairman Eng. Sobhi Batterjee and CEO Isam Shahwan, ‘ pushes the limits of technology to create an educational community of utmost quality. The company’s services are available for the whole world in Arabic, English and French.

First forum of its kind to promote creativity and innovation in smart learning.

“Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University” launches “Smart Learning Best Practice Forum 2014”
 University supports transformation to “smart city” model
]UAE, July 14, 2014[ “Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University” has announced the launch of its “Smart Learning Best Practice Forum” for the year 2014. The aim of the forum is to encourage the exchange of best practices in smart learning in educational, academic and training institutions across the world. Moreover, it will promote creativity and innovation in smart learning as an essential factor to ensure successful transformation to “smart city” model. The forum will be held on October 20, 2014 and will include seven trackes namely: “smart learning”, “learner centricity”, “excellence orientation”, “smart partnership”, “technology exploitation”, “resource utilization”, and “process innovation”.

“Smart Learning Best Practice Forum 2014” is the first forum of its kind that encourages the implementation of the best practices in smart learning in educational, academic, and training institutions. It supports the continual growth and development of smart learning including the ability to come up with innovative ideas, evaluate their compatibility with strategic thinking approaches and ensure their implementation rigorously to achieve tangible and intangible benefits. The event is supported by European Learning Industry Group (ELIG), the Swiss Center for Innovations in Learning (SCIL) of St. Gallen’s University, the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE), and the Association of Arab Universities.

The agenda of the forum includes seminars, discussions and the “Smart Learning Best Practice Award” a first-of-its-kind awards that was launched to honor the best practices followed in the educational and training institutions across the world and to ensure the quality of smart learning as a prominent feature of the modern world based on technical innovations. The “Smart Learning Best Practice Award” has seven categories and will be awarded as per the evaluation of an International Jury comprising world-wide International experts and specialists in best practice thinking with smart learning aspects based on unified criteria of Novelty,  Innovativeness, Sustainability, Transferability, Maturity, Implementability and Compatibility. 


 Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University – Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor

Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor, said: “Smart Learning Best Practice Forum 2014” is launched to support Smart Learning Initiative introduced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. It is a solid platform that will enhance the learning experience by adopting the highest standards of Smart Learning to boost education as an essential component of the UAE Vision 2021. Likewise, the Smart Learning Best Practice Award will add value to HBMSU’s efforts to encourage the culture of excellence, creativity and innovation in Smart Learning by honoring and promoting the best practices that keep pace with rapid changes in the digital world.”   


Participation in “Smart Learning Best Practice Forum 2014” and Smart Learning Best Practice Award is open to any individual or team involved in Smart Learning practices from any educational or training institutions around the world. Individuals or institutions willing to participate in the forum may register by completing the free application form available on the university’s website:, and institutions that seeks to establish itself as a smart learning institution can apply for any of the awards’ categories by submitting the award application form to the e-TQM Institute before the 1st of September, 2014.

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.

– Ends –

Digital proficiency ensures better options for job seekers

Employers are in dire need for digital skills beyond Office applications
UAE, May 11, 2014 – ICDL GCC Foundation, an organisation dedicated to promoting digital skills and cyber safety for-all across the Gulf region, has revealed that fresh university graduates and job seekers must possess diversified and more ICT skills than ever before, to ensure readiness for today’s job market. According to the European Commission Digital Agenda, 90 per cent of jobs will need at least a reasonable level of ICT skills by 2015, adding that the GCC region is no different from the European market in integrating advanced technologies into the workplace.

ICDL pointed out that today’s job market requirements are no longer limited to the basic computer knowledge of the commonly used office applications. It, now, focuses on one’s proficiency in cloud computing, IT security, social media, online collaboration tools and project planning. That said, progress at the school and higher education levels are required to keep up with the region’s fast technological progress, to enable the educational system to provide graduates with the demands of the 21stcentury workplace.
The ICT landscape is changing at a rapid pace, 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 changes have also brought about drastic shifts in the GCC’s job market.
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.
Jamil Ezzo, Director General of ICDL GCC Foundation, 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 UAE Nationals to be skilled, re-skilled and up skilled in line with the latest international trends in ICT training and certification. As the GCC countries moves towards knowledge-based economy, it is imperative the Nationals are trained with the latest digital skills for functional industry experience to give a boost to the policy of Nationalization”, Ezzo concluded.

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 has been widely reviewed and accepted by schools around the world and particularly in the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.  

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.
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. 

US has been premiere destination for UAE students for higher education since the 60s, says Carian College Advisors’ chief.

Out of every 10,000 students that went to US in academic year 2012-13,      27 came from UAE; Business and Engineering were most popular majors
Dubai, UAE, 30 March 2014: Globally, out of every 10,000 students who went to the US to study in the 2012-13 academic year, 27 came from the UAE (Emiratis and expatriates).

These figures were released by Carian College Advisors, a specialist American education consultancy headquartered in Dubai, and based on the latest Open Doors report published by The Institute of International Education (IIE), an independent not-for-profit organization founded in 1919.
Peter Davos, Managing Director, Carian College Advisors: “The US remains one of the world’s leading destinations for UAE students. The demand for American higher education remained robust this year, not only from the UAE, but also from around the globe. The movement kept us very busy, catering to the individual needs of our clients eager to study in reputable US universities, as we use a highly individualised approach to the preparation and application processes to ensure each of our students find the proper ‘fit’.”
The most popular majors for UAE students studying in US universities are Business and Engineering, according to the same report.
Davos added: “We take pride in our ability to place students in over 4,000 leading degree-granting US institutions of higher learning in 50 states. As independent consultants, we have an edge in acting as non-biased advisors to students and their parents. We understand the stress and complexity of applying to US universities. Applicants have too many options and our job is to act as match-makers between students and universities, based on their academic, geographical, cultural, and professional preferences.”
Davos explained: “We recommend the US over other countries because of its flexible curriculum, interdisciplinary approach to education and emphasis on holistic development of individuals. US universities are well qualified to teach students how to become resourceful and analytical thinkers, as well as provide them with the right tools to integrate in any workplace. Since 2008, the US has become the top destination for international students, as overseas fees for students studying in the UK have tripled and no other country’s institutions can offer significant sums of merit aid to qualified applicants. Almost 100% of our students received merit based aid from at least one institution.”
“The United States is one of the most culturally diverse and inclusive societies in the world. It has been welcoming students from the UAE since the 50s and 60s,” he pointed out.
During 2013, Carian College Advisors held UAE students secure admissions to many leading US universities, such as Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Cornell, Yale, Brown, Colorado School of Mines, University of Chicago, Columbia, University of California Los Angeles, and New York University.
Editor’s Note:

Carian College Advisors is a specialist US education consultant that offers a range of admission counselling services for students in the UAE. Headed by Peter Davos (MSt Oxon, MDesS Harvard), Carian College Advisors is one among the few education consultants in the country that specialises in offering admission-counselling services for universities exclusively in the United States. Carian College Advisors can assist with the entire or specific parts of the application process, such as college list creation, the submission of a personal statement, supplemental essays, letters of recommendation, summary list of extracurricular activities, description of past summer experiences, and the completion of a college interview.

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”.