June 2006 – Major ICDL Implementation Underway in the Middle East


The Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt has undertaken to certify the computer skills of at least 1 Million public servants over the next 5 years using ICDL, with the potential for several million more to follow. ICDL strategic partner UNESCO will provide Quality Assurance services as part of their regional commitment to supporting the ICDL programme.

The ICDL programme, which recently celebrated its 6 millionth candidate registration worldwide, achieved a double boost in the Middle East region last week with the announcement of both a major implementation by the Egyptian Government and a commitment by strategic partner UNESCO Office in Cairo to continue to support the expansion and uptake of the not-for-profit certification programme in the Arab States.

A consortium of Egyptian Government Ministries, including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of State Development and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, which is co-ordinating the initiative, committed to training and then benchmarking the IT skills of at least 1 Million Civil Servants, Teachers, Students, New Graduates and other public sector workers through a network of government approved ICDL centres.

The total number could reach many times the initial target in this the most populous nation in the region. The Quality Assurance of the project implementation will be provided by UNESCO Office in Cairo, a long-time supporter of the ICDL programme within Egypt, and within the whole Arab States region, and a key strategic partner for the ECDL Foundation (the global Governing body of the ECDL, ICDL and associated programmes). As well as ensuring that the international standards of the ICDL programme are being upheld on this project, this agreement heralded the explicit intent of UNESCO Office in Cairo to continue their support for the programme within the region and to expand further into states which have not yet seen a major ICDL implementation.

By partnering with not-for-profit, vendor neutral, international organisations such as the ECDL Foundation and UNESCO, the Egyptian Ministries plan to benchmark their investment in human resource development against recognised global standards without compromising their own neutrality with regard to software providers. The programme will also be a great boost for individuals working within the Government, who will now be able to gain a resumé boosting international qualification. The agreement was formally signed at an official ceremony in Cairo, attended by Ministers from each of the four participating Ministries and ECDL Foundation CEO Mr Damien O’Sullivan, along with many other dignitaries from the Egyptian Government, the ECDL Foundation and UNESCO.

The agreement was welcomed by Mr O’Sullivan, who commented “The ambitious scope of this project is indicative of the commitment of the Egyptian Government to developing its most valuable resource – its people. Although many other Ministries in other countries have endorsed and implemented the ICDL, most notably the United Kingdom National Health Service and the Italian Ministry of Education, this project will be the largest single ICDL implementation anywhere in the world. The unique not-for-profit nature of the ECDL Foundation means that we only need to cover our operational costs, with surpluses being reinvested into programme development, and therefore the Ministries were able to buy into an internationally recognised standard at the most reasonable cost possible.”

Dr Mohammed Abdulrazzak, Director of UNESCO Office in Cairo, added “We are delighted to be involved in this project and will continue to provide assurance that the highest standards of quality, accountability and transparency are being upheld according to the rules of the ECDL Foundation. I am proud of the continuing commitment of my staff to supporting the ICDL for the benefit of people in Egypt and within the whole Arab States region.” All parties have signalled their intent to make a positive impact on the Egyptian economy and society as soon as possible and work begins immediately on the project.

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