Learning Light, the UK-based market analyst that helps organisations using e-learning and learning technologies to improve their business performance, has published research into aspects of education and training in the Middle East.
The research deals with:
- Women and Islam: how e-learning can overcome traditional barriers to learning in Muslim communities
- The role of e-learning and technology in promoting equality and redressing poverty in Muslim communities
- The driving forces for innovation in the Middle East
Pointing out that many women in Muslim communities face barriers to education and learning, the research explains that this is only true in a cultural, rather than a strictly religious, sense. Moreover, it argues that e-learning could play a vital part in overcoming some of these traditional cultural barriers.
Stressing caution in approaching women’s education in both Western and Muslim-majority countries, societies and communities, it quotes a UN report which identifies gender inequality in education across the world, in different forms and for different reasons.
While agreeing that cultural change is never easy to manage, The Learning Light authors – Saeeda Ahmed and Dr Georgios Vournas – reveal that e-learning is transforming women’s access to education across the world. In particular, they highlight Zayed University, an all-female university in the UAE, which has conducted a study regarding e-learning’s impact on social and cultural limitations of higher education.
Saeeda Ahmed and Dr Georgios Vournas conclude that e-learning can provide a flexible way for Muslim women to access learning. It can provide opportunities to learn key skills where face-to-face delivery would be expensive and, in cultural terms, too rigid to be used.
Admitting that ‘e-learning and gender issues is a relatively new area of research’, the second piece of research points out that, in many Muslim countries, educational poverty (the percentage of population that achieves less than four years of schooling) is widespread. In all of these countries, female educational poverty is much higher than male.
It adds that, while e-learning and technology may not be the complete answer in addressing educational and economic poverty for women, e-learning and its underpinning technological infrastructures can tackle some of the long-established barriers to a more gender-balanced society.
Having stated that e-learning has become a major force in combating educational inequality as well as a force of economic development, the Learning Light authors argue that the Middle East can provide many opportunities for e-learning developers and technology companies, including being: investors in new technologies and learning; funders of research, and potential buyers of highly innovative products.
“There’s strong evidence that Middle Eastern countries are committed developing their economies and populations by using innovative and creative ways,” said Learning Light Director, David Patterson. “Consequently, they’re investing heavily in innovation and e-learning.
“So, while it’s vital that any would-be investor recognises the intricacies and subtleties involved in doing business successfully in the Middle East, e-learning can be both the benefactor and beneficiary as part of this area’s solid commitment to innovation.”