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Queen Rania announces launch of new learning platform for Arab schoolchildren

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan announced the launch of a new learning platform for school-aged children across the Arab world while attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. This platform is building upon the success of Edraak’s existing platform for adult learners; it was initiated in 2014 and has reached 1.5 million people across the Middle East and Northern Africa.

The announcement was made on the sidelines of the WEF during a Google-hosted event. His Majesty King Abdullah and Google CEO, Sundar Pichai were also present. The free K-12 Edraak platform was developed with the support of a grant from Google worth USD 3 million. The partnership between Google and the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development (QRF) was announced in May 2017. Her Majesty’s press office added that it was “complemented with engagement from Googlers to provide product design expertise, the platform comes as an expansion of Edraak, the leading Arabic massive open online courses platform for adult learners.”

In an image provided by Her Majesty’s press office, Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah pose with Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Copyright © 2018, The Royal Hashemite Court

According to Queen Rania’s press office, “The new school-learners Edraak platform will offer free online open educational resources, generating much-needed Arabic digital educational content that meets the learning needs of Arab students from kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12) and their educators.

“The platform was created in answer to rampant unrest across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), where according to UNICEF more than 15 million children are out of school as a result of armed conflicts and displacement.”

The turmoil in the region has directly impacted the education of young children in the refugee-host countries like Jordan. These nations have had their education systems strained due to the influx of refugee students.

At the event, Her Majesty, stressing the importance of education, stated, “We cannot wait for generations of children to grow up in darkness, vulnerable to extremism and hopelessness. A child denied an education isn’t just a tragedy for that child; it leaves the rest of us vulnerable. But the future doesn’t have to be this bleak – not in this age of innovation.”

During her speech, she also thanked Google for their commitment to the educational project, which is an initiative of the QRF, saying that it can “completely transform the education landscape in the Middle East, and to tip the scales towards a more hopeful future for us all.”

It is currently in its pilot phase with grades seven and nine being able to access mathematics material which includes over 1,200 minutes of educational video material. All classes will have this available by the end of 2018. The Queen said the aim is to provide all Arab schoolchildren with free access to quality education, including e-curricula and learning resources in all major subjects, by 2020. It will also give the parents the opportunity to play an active role in their children’s education.

About their participation in the student-centered inquiry-based learning programme, Jacquelline Fuller, President of Google.org said, “Google.org is proud to support the Queen Rania Foundation’s efforts to bring quality education, in Arabic, to underserved learners in the Middle East and North Africa, which aligns to Google’s mission to leverage technology to close gaps in global education. This is an important milestone in the evolution of Edraak into a platform that unlocks new learning opportunities for K-12 students in the region.”

King Abdullah, Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan are to be at the World Economic Forum from 23 through the 26th.

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