Egypt to Host Branch of Arab Open University
An Arab Open University, designed to meet a shortage in university places in the Arab region and improve women’s access to higher education, is to start operating in October 2002, with headquarters in Kuwait and branches in Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, and Lebanon, according to a report posted on unsesco.org.
Focusing initially on courses in business administration, computer science and technology, English, and teacher training, the Open University was initiated by the president of the Arab Gulf Program for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND), Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, who signed a co-operation agreement on the project with UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura in Paris on Friday.
According to the report, AGFUND will provide over US$1.5 million for the Arab Open University - covering approximately half its total cost - with an initial allotment of US$200,000 to UNESCO to fund the Organization’s contribution to the project. UNESCO’s input will notably center on developing the university’s strategy for distance higher education, setting up a distance learning center, multimedia production, satellite network and videoconferencing, virtual library, recruitment of experts and staff training.
A feasibility study conducted for the Open University project in 1998 showed that the Arab countries suffered from a shortage of 600,000 university places and demonstrated an increasing demand for higher education among working secondary school graduates who do not have a university degree, according to the UNESCO.
The Arab Open University will use distance learning, drawing on information and communication technologies, to make higher and continuing education accessible to Arab citizens regardless of their place of residence. It will prioritize women’s access to education.
Since its creation in 1982, AGFUND has provided funding to over 600 United Nations projects, including more than 60 UNESCO projects – Albawaba.com