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Gulf countries invest big in digital education

Gulf Capital Markets

GCC countries are spending big on education and digital learning, according to a new report from Pearson.

August 18, 2013 4:11 by

Investment from Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are among the highest in the world, says the British education firm in its ‘Alive in the Swamp’ report, which contains an index for the systematic evaluation of new digital innovations with regards to learning.

The index assesses learning technologies by three criteria; the effectiveness of the learning technology, real and lasting system change and the accessibility of the technology. Many new technologies are surfacing and Gulf education ministries and schools are both facing unprecedented choice on which tools to employ.

“Technology has huge potential for strengthening and deepening what we can learn,” says Pearson’s Katelyn Donnelly, who co-authored the report with Michael Fullan. “However, given the breadth of digital learning products available in the market, it is often difficult to determine which products will have the greatest tangible benefits for schools and students.

“The index has highlighted where innovation gaps exist, so we are hoping entrepreneurs will take up the challenge of creating new products that fill these holes in the market, and ultimately improve the quality of the learning technology available in the Gulf and all around the world,” Donnelly explains.

The report writers claim that educators should seek digital innovations that produce ‘at least twice the learning outcome for half the cost of our current tools’. The core of the report is the development of an Index that brings these three elements together, and which allows us to systematically evaluate new digital innovations.

Saudi Arabia alone is budgeting an unprecedented US$54bn for education, ranking within the top countries globally. The UAE and Qatar are not far behind. The latter has doubled its education spending over the past five years and will spend more than US$6bn in 2013, while the seven emirates spend nearly a fifth of their total budget on schools.

“The future will not belong to those who focus on technology alone but to those who place it in the wider context of what we know about maximising learning and realising system impact. This report helps advance that goal,” explains Sir Michael Barber in the report’s foreword. Barber acted as an education adviser to the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

This article first appeared on sister publication

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