Jordan's Queen Rania Al-Abdullah launched Monday a not-for-profit platform for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in Arabic dubbed "Edraak," the purpose is to create better education power opportunities for young Arabs.
In the opening ceremony, Queen Rania highlighted some of the challenges faced by the Arab world, from poor quality of education and graduates' inability to meet the demands of the job market, to the limited number of global scientific publications released and the scarcity of exports in advanced technology as well as the skills gap in the region.
Queen Rania stressed to the audience that "the world around us is speeding toward a future where ideas, knowledge and skills are the founding blocks of prosperity, while we drift at the bottom of global rankings in terms of knowledge, and in terms of how and what we produce." The Queen noted that the Arab world has a chance to acquire capabilities and skills needed to catch up and realize transformative leaps.
"We launched Edraak as a realization of what we have already missed and as a way to catch up to a future befitting of us, of our history and of the message that was sent to us, urging us to "Read," Queen Rania added.
Queen Rania noted that there are millions of portals rich with knowledge, and that millions of brains are pouring the products of their research and experiences online from which the world can benefit.
"Today, knowledge is available for those who seek it, and education is there for those who want it," she added.
"Although online learning is not a solution to all our problems, quality education that is open to everyone is an opportunity to increase our knowledge, and raise the potential of the region," the Queen added.
Queen Rania also thanked all partners and stakeholders for their support.
The platform will bring the education power of MOOCs to the Arab world and is a reflection of Her Majesty's commitment to expanding access to quality education across the region.
Edraak, an initiative of the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development (QRF), was developed based on edX technology, a leading global MOOC provider founded by Harvard and MIT.
The platform will offer Arab learners access to courses taught at universities such as Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley, amongst others, at no cost to the learner, with the potential to earn certificates of mastery for certain courses.
In addition, Edraak will develop its own courses in Arabic taught by leading Arab faculty members and well-known professionals in a variety of fields, offering original Arabic content.
Later, CEO Haifa Dia Al-Attia of QRF said that they are pleased with the enthusiasm the initiative has been received with by youth and Arab academics, who are working at the best universities across the world.
She added that in the past two weeks, more than 35,000 users have registered for Edraak's courses which will start next June.
Edraak will start by providing a number of courses in June 2014, while a new set of courses will be offered towards the end of August. Users can register through the Edraak website www.edraak.org.