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Education and ICT in the Middle East

May 20, 2009 - 0 Comments

We had the opportunity to participate in the WEF regional summit for the Middle East in Dead Sea, Jordan (422 meters below sea level and the lowest point on the surface of earth on dry land). The three-day meeting was held under the theme “Implications of the Global Economic Crisis for the Middle East: Home-grown Strategies for Success”. During May 15-17, more than 1,400 leaders from 85 countries, from businesses, government, media and civil society gather to discuss the economic crisis and the future of the region.This time the agenda placed a special focus on how technology can help the region to grow and become more competitive and how to improve education for the growing young population, the largest in the Middle East’s history. Today, 65% of the Arab world’s population is under the age of 25.And perhaps this, the future of the young population, was at the end the central point of the event. At every session whether it was about finance, security, geopolitics or economic growth, the big looming concern at the conference was the fact that there will be an estimated 100 million youth in the next 15 years entering the Middle East job market and up to 200 million by year 2050. Everyone was focused on addressing this challenge by finding ways to create job opportunities. Education reform was a recurring theme as a fundamental and necessary enabler for economic growth and job creation. This validates Cisco stance on 21st century skills that are at the core of this much needed transformation: critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, creativity, social responsibility, and global awareness. We understand technology is not a goal by itself but an enabler and equalizer. And to this point, ICT is the best way to train and educate these new generations. “The region has to create the environment to facilitate this by providing schools with technology as well as a culture which allows mistakes to be made, because this is how you learn”, said Wim Elfrink, Cisco Globalization Officer and head of our delegation during the Plenary Session. Below some comments and remarks about the WEF Middle East from our delegation: Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President, Cisco Services & Chief Globalization OfficerYvon Le Roux, Vice President, Africa and LevantGeorge Akiki, Director, Corporate Affairs, Middle East and Africa

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