ICDL kicks into full gear in the Middle East

A recent study reports that the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL), a computer proficiency standard boosts national economies by delivering essential IT skills to citizens. Governments in the Middle East are following suit, by rolling out similar programs in the region.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  April 6, 2004

International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL), the computer proficiency standard, has received a shot in the arm with a new study that reveals that the program can boost national economies by delivering essential IT skills to citizens. The study, carried out in Ireland, the founding country of the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) Foundation, revealed that the Irish economy has benefited to the value of 362 million Euros and the creation of 4,400 jobs since the ICDL program was introduced in 1997. “ICDL was first introduced in Europe because of the need to address the shortage of manpower trained in IT. Within a short period, ICDL succeeded in establishing its credentials and won recognition as the global standard for acquiring basic and advanced computer skills,” says David Carpenter, managing director, European Computer Driving Licence Foundation. ICDL has been adopted in over 135 countries globally and its programs have been translated into 34 languages, including Arabic, with endorsements by the corporate sector. Over 3.75 million people have taken the ICDL certification till date from more than 15,000 centres. In the region, ICDL has set up training and testing centres, through partnerships with major training and academic institutions, as well as governmental organisations to spread the penetration of ICDL programs. “With the Middle East poised to register phenomenal growth in IT, ICDL has a major role to play in the region,” says Rich MacLaren, program director, ICDL UAE. In the Middle East, ICDL is sponsored by UNESCO's Cairo Office (UCO) for Arab states, and is gaining increasing acceptance, with several governments adopting or prescribing it to their employees. The programs offered are all based on one standard syllabus and question set. Since its launch in the Middle East in 2001, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, UAE, Egypt and Jordan have endorsed the ICDL program. In Egypt, the ICDL program is endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of ICT and e-Government. The Jordanian Government has directed all Federal employees to complete the ICDL Certification program by 2006. The program has already been endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of ICT and e-Government. In Saudi Arabia, there has been a lot of interest in the program from Government sectors such as the General Organisation of Technical Education and Vocational Training (GOTEVOT) as well as King Fahad University for Petroleum and Minerals and King Khalid University. GOTEVOT, which has adopted the ICDL program has trained more than 10,000 students under the initiative. Oman’s Ministry of National Economy, which has recently endorsed the ICDL program, is now working with other Ministries in the Sultanate to implement the program for the entire Omani government workforce. It is also working with the Ministry of Education to ensure that all teachers are ICDL certified and all secondary level students complete the program. In the UAE, Dubai eGovernment has implemented two ICDL programs as part of its e4all initiative and the basic ICDL program will be offered to all qualifying government employees in Dubai. Dubai e-Government has also launched the e-Citizen program developed by the ECDL Foundation, aimed at educating Dubai residents on how to use Dubai eGovernment e-Services. The Abu Dhabi Education Zone and the Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority have chosen the ICDL program for 7,000 school teachers and 10,000 employees respectively.All the major universities in the UAE are offering the ICDL program to their teachers and students say ministry officials.

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