eTQM college launches recruitment drive

College is signing up students after it implemented schemes to overcome challenges facing online learning in the Middle East.

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By  Patrick Phelvin Published  January 25, 2004

|~|zairi.jpg|~|Mohammed Zairi says the college is working to overcome some of the obstacles facing e-learning |~|After two years spent building its infrastructure, conducting market research and preparing education programmes in total quality management, the Dubai-based eTQM College has begun recruiting learners for its a range of electronic and traditional courses. The government-backed venture aims sign up 50,000 individual and corporate pupils by the end of 2004. Proponents of the college believe the principle of total quality management, which seeks to improve products and services through ongoing refinements in response to continuous feedback, has great potential in the Middle East and can be used to great affect across the region’s public and private sectors. To further its aims of reaching across all sections of society in the Arab world, the eTQM College has fully embraced the e-learning model, which it believes will play a key part in preparing the next generation of Arab businessmen and women. “The Arab World has 300 million people and one of the fastest growing populations in the world. But the region is going through many political, economic and social challenges, with globalisation affecting the prosperity of these countries. We believe quality could be an important weapon to guarantee future prosperity in the Middle East,” says professor Mohammed Zairi, the college Dean. “Quality management has helped Japan lead the world for more than 50 years. In the West, competition is based on quality management. With this there is an opportunity to equip the Arab world with the tools to compete on an international basis,” he adds. The college is doing much to nurture relationships with the region’s businesses, recently launching an online executive club to act as a forum for the latest management practices. In addition, it has moved into new premises and launched a publishing house. eTQM has also set up CAPI — the Centre for Arabisation and Programme Integrity — which employs Arab-speaking quality management experts to Arabise course content, most of which originates in the USA. A range of courses aimed at applying quality management theory to education, healthcare, policing, executive development and manufacturing are already offered by eTQM College. All can be accessed online or through a range of training centres around the region. The college has already had some success in the region, signing up 183 individual online learners and 15,000 affiliated with various organisations. However, these users are for the most part based in the UAE and Kuwait, countries that are ranked by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) first and third in terms of internet penetration in the region respectively. The college is posed with the problem of having to roll out the same courses across countries that are ranked among the world’s lowest in terms of internet connectivity, like Yemen and Syria, where in some cases would-be e-learners have a seven-year wait for telephone line installation. To tackle these problems eTQM has developed a number of initiatives, combining traditional distance learning methods with its online approach. “We put together a hybrid model through which to distribute our courses in a variety of ways: online wherever possible, multimedia-based CD ROMS, which we can we can send offline but are still interactive, and paper-based distance learning supported by some e-learning,” Zairi explains. Another problem faced by the eTQM College is the perception that the quality management principles do not apply to all industry verticals. “There is a lot of ignorance of quality management [in the Middle East]. There is zero provision of its concepts in education at any level, state or private,” Zairi explains. “The fallacy of the whole thing is that quality management is only for manufacturing, but over the years it has become pervasive and has been applied generically. [With QM} we have seen big transformations across the public sector in Europe and the United States,” he adds. ||**||

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