CAIRO: Schools following the Technology for Improved Learning Outcomes (TILO) program have achieved a 45 percent success rate in the past four years, according to Dina Kafafi, TILO director of Smart Schools and Technology Partnerships.
As part of the program, 277 Egyptian schools are now decked out with one-lab computer classrooms and interactive software that technically “never gets tired of teaching the student,” Ahmed Tobal, advisor with the Minister of Education, said at the Sawy Cultural Wheel Monday.
The program is supported by US aid, but works closely with the Ministry of Education.
“We are always in meetings together. There isn’t an educational project in Egypt that operates except under the ministry’s auspices. If we extend [TILO] project’s deadline, it means it is a success,” Tobal said.
Tobal wants to take the digital push beyond these schools to the rest of Egypt’s 45,000 schools, but cannot do so on meager state budget.
The transitional Egyptian government allocated LE 450 million of the 2011-2012 state budget to education. The ministry has added LE 500 million on its own, but is seeking another LE 6 million.
“If you think that the government can raise this money on its own, then we can make no strides. We rely on the private sector,” said Hassan El-Kalla, chairman of EDU Systems International, an education industry development enterprise, and owner of Future Schools.
“To achieve any change in the educational system, there must be a change in our investment strategy,” Tobal said.
On its part, the Ministry of Education has taken its mandate towards technologizing “the age-old educational system,” according to Tobal.
“Our revolution relied on youth, either in high school or college, who have technological capabilities and an open mind.
“So far, we [the ministry] provide technology infrastructure that is very weak,” he added.
Despite limited resources, the ministry has laid down plans to spread technology to Egyptian households, and develop a product that can assist education, which is “fully Egyptian.” Distribution of smart computers will be enough to cause a spike in embracing technology, experts said.
Under the 2009 Government to Government (G2G) project, the ministry has taken steps to establish a comprehensive, electronic database that records social and personal data for every first-grade level student this year.
This helps the ministry to track dropouts, to try to integrate them into the educational process once again.
A large number of teachers and educators were also given training sessions on how to teach inside the classroom using technology.
“It is not a matter of pointing the marker to the words on a screen. Our understanding of technology has changed; it is how much a student takes charge of an electronic device and starts taking responsibility and making decisions,” El-Kalla said.