Published on Arab Voices

Empowering MENA Youth through “the Cloud”

Mena Tech Youth - Ahed Izhiman

When I was your age “checking your mail” meant walking to the post office and collecting letters, “tweet” meant the chirping of a bird, and “cloud” meant rain! Today, we live in a very different world.

Technology is not only changing the demands of the future workforce but also how we prepare today’s students for it; it influences the means but also the ends for education. Technology’s role in the future of work is certain, but how it will be used is yet to be explored and exploited. Now we have a unique opportunity to use technology help deliver better quality education in a more efficient and effective manner. And cloud computing is at the center of this digital opportunity.
Look at your smart phone. Can you believe this one device has already replaced 50 devices? Clock, camera, GPS, radio, flashlight, credit card, and USB drive are just a few to name. Data collected from all these 50 “devices” inside your smart phone are not stored on a hard drive or a flash drive but rather on a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet that also manage and process data. This evolution, known as cloud computing, holds transformational value for the future.   
Cloud computing is changing the way we look at our future because it has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks. It can dramatically change the way we learn and the way we work. The time is now for us to understand and proactively manage the transition of education services and the future of jobs to the cloud. The opportunities presented by the cloud are particularly relevant to  MENA where the challenge of out-of-school children in fragile and conflict areas cannot be addressed by traditional brick and mortar infrastructure. As the future of education and work undergoes a digital transformation, it is critical that we make sure our young people are ready to be a part of this transformation.
It is with this goal in mind that the World Bank recently signed a new US$500 million investment project with the government of Egypt to support their efforts to transform the way education is delivered.  The project, which will be implemented by the Ministry of Education and Technical Education, has an ambitious goal to use technology to improve teaching and learning conditions in Egypt’s public education system. It is one of the first projects in the region that is actually moving Egypt’s entire student assessment system to the cloud!
To complement this project, we at the World Bank are pleased to partner with the Ministry of Education and Technical Education in Egypt and Amazon Web Services (AWS) in launching the “Skills for the Future Initiative” (SFI). SFI aims to equip young people in MENA with skills that are critical for the future of work. SFI Cairo brought together 200 young Egyptians enrolled in TVET training programs and 70 teachers in a 2-day event to learn about the essentials of cloud computing. The training was delivered by the AWS Educate team in Arabic. SFI interventions focus on the intersection of skills, technology and youth.
Moving forward, we will be planning additional SFI events in the form of short-term training boot camps to equip young people with technology and 21st century skills. These will include cloud computing skills, soft skills, and other skills that are high in demand in the region. We also plan to target refugee populations for whom SFI skills can be truly transformational.
The youth of MENA are hungry for change, and we need to make sure this change is positive, transformational, and aligned with the future!


Safaa El Tayeb El-Kogali

Country Director for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

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