Saudi e-learning market to quadruple

Saudi Arabia, which allocates a major chunk of the national budget to education and vocational training is poised to become one of the largest e-learning markets in the region, pushing its value from the current US$30 million to US$125 million by 2008.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  December 13, 2004

Saudi Arabia, which allocates a major chunk of the national budget to education and vocational training, has put in place diverse initiatives that will see the Kingdom emerging as one of the biggest e-learning markets in the region, pushing its value from the current US$30 million to US$125 million by 2008. According to a new report by the Dubai-based Madar Research, the Saudi education and e-learning market will expand at a compound average growth rate of 33% over the next five years. This growth will be boosted by government-led initiatives and education projects, some of which are already in various stages of implementation. Capitalising on this potential growth are hardware and software vendors i.e. technology providers; the content providers, who provide the courseware and computer based training (CBT) content and service providers, who facilitate the integration and network infrastructure. “The Saudi IT market as a whole is growing rapidly, as the kingdom prepares to increase IT penetration among its 24-millon strong population spread across a vast area,” comments Ahmed Ali Ashadawi, president and CEO, Al-Falak, a Saudi-based service provider. “Schools and universities are the ideal places to start the work of grooming Saudis for a challenging new future. The e-learning initiatives are a serious manifestation of the intention of the Saudi authorities to make the country e-literate.” Recently, Saudi’s Ministry of Education began implementing e-learning into the kingdom’s schools through a pilot e-classroom project in five secondary schools in Riyadh. According to the Madar study, several public and private schools in Saudi Arabia have adopted e-learning programmes using e-learning tools, including wireless infrastructure. Some schools are already experimenting with e-classrooms where each student has a desktop and the teachers use laptops. Universities and colleges in Saudi Arabia have reached impressive levels of e-learning. For instance, King Saud University in Riyadh was among the first to introduce e-learning into its curriculum, using the WebCT learning management solution. The King Abdulaziz University was the first to deploy e-learning to benefit its distance education students as well as those attending classes. The University also boasts of the largest electronic library in the kingdom with 16,000 e-books. King Khalid University’s e-learning pilot project is expected to go on stream in the 2005-2006 academic year. Similarly the Arab Open University is currently offering 12 e-learning based courses using the First Place e-learning solution of the UK Open University.

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