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In-depth Country-by-Country analysis of distance learning in the Middle East

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The foundation of DE.
    1. Computer-based technologies.
    2. Moving to economics as a driver.
    3. Teachers' attitudes to the various drivers.
    4. Private-sector interests.
  3. Challenges for Distance Education.
    1. Research and funding for programs.
    2. The percentage of computer users in Middle Eastern countries.
    3. Opportunity.
    4. The government of Egypt.
    5. Language and cultural barriers.
  4. Discussion.
    1. Focus on the technology of delivery.
    2. Exploratory trip to Gaza.
    3. The case of Bahrain.
    4. Sudan Open Learning Unit's (SOLU).
  5. Objectives of labor force development.
  6. The organization and management of open and distance learning.
  7. The UN alternative.
  8. Conclusion.

In this context, underdeveloped countries such as those in the Middle East (i.e. The Arab States, Israel, Palestine, Iran, Turkey, Sudan and Egypt) must increasingly turn to distance learning as a means of broadening access to education for their populations. In 1981, fourteen of UNESCO member Arab States ratified the Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas And Degrees in Higher Education highlighting their commitment ?to develop education, to promote access thereto and improve its quality and to promote lifelong education? (UNESCO).

[...] Distance education with the human touch that tutoring provides can make all the difference in the life of these young Palestinians and it was exactly this population, who had been denied education, work, and freedom to move about that were the target of the new campus. Takahashi goes on to state that ?nothing gets in the way of education like politics? and in our case, at Fanshawe, politics did get in the way of what was conceived with the best intention. [...]

[...] Unfortunately, in Middle Eastern countries the percentage of computer users at home is far less. In fact, in many of these countries the mention of the word immediately creates images of expense and unaffordability. Unlike the United States, it is still a common practice for most Internet providers to charge by the minute for access, and those charges are limiting to many people. Furthermore, in many Middle Eastern nations where the telecommunication infrastructure is not as developed or as freely accessible as in the United States, significant funding and personnel resources still need to be provided. [...]

[...] The organization and management of open and distance learning is necessarily more complicated than running a school. At its simplest, the work of a school is confined within its walls: knowledge in the heads of the teachers, communication by chalk and talk, accreditation as a rite of passage. Open and distance learning has brought a new division of labor into education and, with it, a set of options for stakeholders about the location of the separate functions of recruiting students, of developing, producing, reproducing and distributing teaching materials, of teaching and supporting students, and of awarding credit. [...]

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