(Office of Her Majesty – Press Department – Hertfordshire) - The Queen Rania Foundation and Google.org today announced they have joined forces to create an online learning platform for Arabic open educational resources (OERs) targeting K-12 students and their educators across the Middle East and North Africa region.
The initiative comes at a crucial time to help make sure millions of children across the region have access to quality education. Today, an estimated 13 million MENA children, equivalent to 40% of the school age population, are missing out on an education because of conflict and displacement. The refugee crisis has also strained existing education systems in host countries, like Jordan and Lebanon that have taken in large numbers of refugee students, compromising the quality of education offered to both local and refugee children.
The three million USD grant from Google.org, which was announced during a one-on-one discussion earlier this week between Queen Rania Al Abdullah and Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt at Google Zeitgeist in the UK, reflects their shared belief that technology, when leveraged carefully and intentionally, can play a crucial role in addressing educational challenges around the world.
Speaking to the goals of the work, Queen Rania said, “I am confident that, with the support of Google.org, we can bring about more equitable access to high-quality education, wherever students live, and break down the learning barriers facing so many children in the Arab world.”
“We’re proud to support the ambitious work of the Queen Rania Foundation as part of our ongoing commitment to education programs that harness the power of technology in a way that helps all children have the opportunity to learn and grow,” said Jacquelline Fuller, Vice President of Google.org.
Modeling the latest findings in the space, the K-12 platform will offer both sequential learning material, as well as student-centered inquiry based learning that allows users to search for concepts or skills without having to enroll in a predefined learning sequence. Recognizing the importance of teachers in the learning process, the platform will provide key resources for use in the classroom and will eventually align with national curricula.
“We are excited about and grateful for the support of Google.org,” said CEO of QRF Haifa Dia, adding that “the grant will enable us to provide children in Jordan and across the region with learning opportunities that elude them today, and to reimagine education in our region.”
The first phase of implementation will focus on the mathematics curriculum for all grades, starting with older age groups, and will later expand to include other subjects. To ensure equitable access to its offerings, the platform will eventually include offline functionality and support, building on the work that the Foundation and Google.org have done in this space.
The new platform will build on the success of the Queen Rania Foundation’s higher education online learning platform, Edraak.org, which has already reached over 1 million learners across MENA. The expansion into serving learners in K-12 builds on Edraak’s experience in creating learning experiences for Arabic speaking learners, and leverages lessons learned from working with educators and students in the region.
About the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development
The Queen Rania Foundation, founded by Her Majesty in 2013, aims to be a leading regional resource and incubator for new and innovative ideas and initiatives in education. We believe that education is the foundation of economic, political and social development. That is why we are focused on identifying gaps and opportunities for developing new education programs, with the aim of influencing policy and creating transformational change on the ground.
The Foundation’s latest regional initiative, Edraak.org, is the premier online learning platform for adult learners in the region, reaching more than a million Arab learners with free high quality Arabic educational content since its launch in 2014.
Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, supports nonprofits that innovate to address humanitarian issues. Since launching in 2005, Google.org has sought out nonprofit innovators that apply radical, data-driven innovation to solving the world's biggest challenges. These are the believers-turned-doers that have made the biggest impact on the communities they represent, whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change that can scale. We want a world that works for everyone–and we believe technology and innovation can move the needle in three key areas: education, economic opportunity, and inclusion.