It’s not every day that Central Government and royalty combine to endorse and promote e-learning but that it what has happened in Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has stressed that e-learning plays a fundamental part in his plans to restructure and modernise his country’s education system. To that end, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Higher Education has established The National Center for eLearning (NCEL), to promote the use of e-learning – and NCEL has initiated the ‘Maknaz’ (treasure chest) project. This is a prestigious and long-term project – publicly supported by the Saudi Government – to create local editorial centres producing digital contents of the highest quality in Arabic that will enhance education and training in Saudi schools and universities. The project also aims to build a national network for this content to facilitate the online sharing and exchange of learning materials.
The project aims to further enhance Saudi Arabia’s rise in the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s ‘network readiness index’. It rose from 48th to 40th position in this index between 2007 and 2008. This index illustrates the country’s readiness to play a key part in the new digital economy ecosystem.
The WEF has stressed the importance of ICT in national competitiveness and development strategies. It has provided a useful tool for decision makers and civil society alike to monitor national progress as well as offer examples of best practice and policies to increase networked readiness.
Comment: It’s heartening to find a country that is so serious about improving its ‘network readiness’ position along with the human resources capital at its disposal – and maximising its value to the country’s economy – that its Central Government and Head of State publicly commit themselves to its promotion and support.