By Mohamed Alaa Eldin
The International Computer Driving License (ICDL) is a socially responsible organisation committed to enhancing the proficiency of society’s digital skills, promoting the development and enhancement of digital skills globally and providing knowledge regarding information technology (IT), according to Jamil Ezzo, Director General of ICDL Arabia.
In an exclusive interview with Daily News Egypt, Ezzo said that the number of accredited training centres exceeds 200, consisting of government centres, universities as well as private institutions.
He revealed that ICDL Arabia secured a grant to empower 152,000 government employees and job seekers with the ICDL certification standard, under the supervision of the Ministry of Communications.
Can you shed light on the role played by ICDL Arabia to support the development of information and communications technology (ICT) in Egypt and the Arab world?
ICDL Arabia plays a vital role in enhancing ICT skills by providing relevant training programmes and examinations for receiving an ICDL certificate. The ICDL certificate serves as an international benchmark for digital skills and addresses the urgent demand to promote personal and professional development.
ICDL programmes are strategic tools in enhancing computer skills and facilitating stronger understanding as well as the safe efficient usage of office applications and the Internet. It also enables all members of society to acquire the necessary IT skills to keep pace with the rapid developments of the digital world and the job market. There is an enterprise-wide emphasis on educating students to ensure that they can meet university admission requirements as well as providing graduates and job seekers with the necessary skills and knowledge to help them effectively address the current and future needs of the job market. This is in line with active efforts to establish a new generation qualified to lead the transition towards the knowledge-based economy of the future.
We are collaborating with foreign governments within the GCC and the European Union to support Egypt with various e-skills initiatives including empowering government employees as well as the society at large with digital skills. We are also collaborating with the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. As strategic partners, we secured a grant to empower 152,000 government employees and job seekers with the ICDL certification standard to be under the supervision of the Ministry of Communications. This will be made available to government employees from various civil service departments such as the Ministries of Health, Higher Education, Education, and Interior, among other key ministries. The training will be held at a selected accredited centres, universities and private institutions across Egypt, where qualified staff must complete all the conditions and requirements of the ICDL programme within a period of year.
ICDL Arabia recently hosted summer camps for students in Gulf countries to train them on computer applications. What are your opinions on the hindrances to starting similar initiatives for Egyptian students?
The summer programmes that we organised in the GCC for the past 13 years have been very successful in equipping the youth with the necessary skills to ensure the proper, effective and safe use of computers, the Internet and social media. It is an important platform that can help develop knowledge and awareness of technology in a fun and educational manner.
Seeing the success of the summer camps we have set up throughout GCC, we also wanted to extend the benefits of this programme to Egypt whereby it is funded by responsible corporate citizens as part of the CSR budget to raise awareness and understanding about cybercrime and educate participants to use popular social networking sites for educational purposes and in a socially responsible manner.
What are the new modules that have been introduced to Egypt and Arab countries? Can you highlight the languages in which these modules are available for learning?
Skills in the standard desktop applications are no longer sufficient in the workplace, ICDL recently launched several ICDL Standard Modules tackling Social Media, Cyber Safety, Online Searching, IT Security and HIS to widen the knowledge of individuals. The new structure of the ICDL programmes was developed for the purpose of integrating skills in the standard office applications with new skills required by today’s workplace. The new ICDL Standard Modules can be taken by new candidates as well as existing learners who are undergoing the certification programme, using the same ICDL skills card and ICDL tests.
Can you list some of the most important partners for ICDL Arabia?
Of course our partners in spreading digital skills include the Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Defence, the armed forces, as well as universities and private centres from across the governorates of Egypt.
How many training centres does ICDL Arabia operate in?
As of now, our number of accredited training centres exceeds 200, consisting of government centres, universities, as well as private institutions. Each centre has skilled trainers holding a bachelor’s degree in the fields of information technology as well as experience in computer training. The centre also features state-of-the-art computer labs that are equipped with the latest technologies to facilitate operations according to international methods and practices. It is also designed to ensure the privacy of the students and establish a friendly environment conducive to learning.
How many students have acquired ICDL Licences in Egypt and what are the set targets for 2015?
As of now, we have recorded a total number of 1.2 million enrolments since 2005 and the number is growing.
How does ICDL Arabia help solve the problem of unemployment? What are the benefits for students?
There is no doubt that the certificate is recognised locally, regionally and internationally. ICDL has become a requirement by employers in the public and private sectors. The International Computer Driving License has greatly contributed towards strengthening the capacity of new graduates and job seekers and improving educational training programmes that are integrated effectively within the local and regional labour markets by enabling them to obtain computer literacy certification. An ICDL certificate provides people with more access to jobs, opens up new prospects for career development and personal performance, and improves the standard of living. In addition, ICDL programmes help bridge the gap between secondary and tertiary education and enables students to benefit from modern teaching methods to ensure academic and professional excellence in the future.
How does ICDL Arabia ensure that the integrity of the certificate is protected? What are the steps taken in this arena?
ICDL Arabia has introduced new certificates secured design to its certificates last year. Certain measures were undertaken in the design of the new certificates to safeguard quality standards and curb the illegal production, sale and issuance of fake certificates. The redesigned certificate bears state-of-the-art security features such as the national ID number of the certificate holder and a Quick Response (QR) Code embedded into the document so that they cannot be duplicated or faked. The QR Code is unique to every certificate holder and once scanned using a QR Code reader app on a smart device, the user will automatically be directed to a website page where the relevant candidate details and the ICDL qualifications of the certificate holder will be displayed.
What are the efforts being taken in spreading the message of online security and what are the results so far?
We at ICDL Arabia always coordinate closely with our strategic partners to ensure the success of our plans to deploy the digital culture on a large scale within the Egyptian society, strengthen information security, and ensure safe, effective and responsible use of social media platforms. Recently, we published a special report on online safety risks and the high percentage of cybercrime. The release of the report falls in the context of our efforts to raise public awareness on the importance of the safe use of the Internet, through educational materials and programmes as well as a lecture series covering all demographics including students and recent graduates, parents, job seekers, and people with special needs.
Please list down your target audience for Egypt and the Arab world. What are the requirements for applying to obtain an ICDL licence?
The ICDL programmes are aimed at everyone. With the world becoming more dependent on technology, more people are looking for ways to use computers, Internet and handheld devices in a safe and effective manner for personal as well as their professional lives.
How can the holders of old certificates update their copies?
ICDL redesigned its certificate whereby it now includes the national ID number of the certificate holder and embeds security features that cannot be duplicated. We are urging all legitimate ICDL certificate holders to contact ICDL Arabia via 0020 23302 4235 (3302 ICDL) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org at the earliest possible to transfer their ICDL credentials on to the newly designed ICDL certificate.