Dubai Knowledge Summit told of joint plan to eradicate illiteracy in the Middle East

According to Unesco, millions cannot read or write properly

Al Ruwais Primary Boys School students work on reading problems during an Arabic language class on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011 at the school's campus in Ruwais. (Silvia Razgova/The National)
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Millions of young Arabs will be provided with quality education by 2030 in an aim to eradicate illiteracy in the region thanks to a new initiative announced on Monday.

Launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation at the Knowledge Summit in Dubai, the Literacy Challenge in the Arab World will aim to combat and eradicate illiteracy from the region.

The project, launched in collaboration with Unesco, will provide the right to education to 30 millions Arab youth under the age of 18 by 2030.

More details about the project are expected later on Tuesday.

Unesco has previously placed illiteracy at as high as 25 per cent in Egypt and 20 per cent in Iraq.

“Education is our best tool to fight ignorance and extremism,” said Jamal bin Huwaireb, chief executive of the foundation, which organised the summit.

“It is the only way for the development and well-being of our people and societies. We’re confident the summit will constitute a roadmap for building and advancing knowledge-based societies in our Arab region. Such societies build on innovation and creativity.”

According to Dr Hani Al Mulqi, Jordan’s Prime Minister, education in any country constitutes the real criteria for its success in the era of the 4th industrial revolution.

“Youth in Jordan comprise two-thirds of the population,” he said. “So it’s very important to have skillful youth that are specialised in technology and innovation to get the opportunities they want and to have more knowledge disseminated in the region.”

The fourth edition of the summit bears the theme, 'Knowledge and Fourth Industrial Revolution'.

It has attracteded more than 100 speakers from 23 countries to present new ideas and perspectives on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in addition to exchanging experiences and exploring best practices.

The summit tackles dimensions and key components of the revolution, as well as its effects on society, the economy, academia and culture.


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It will look back on the history of industrial revolutions and their impact on decision-making, as well as to the future impact and results and achievements in media, technology, education, healthcare and the economy.

Sessions will also take an in-depth look into advanced fields such as artificial intelligence and the future of human-robot relations.

The first day of the summit will also include a ceremony to announce the winners of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award, which honours individuals and institutions for their contributions to the production and promotion of knowledge around the world.

The first day will also include speakers such as Hani Al Mulqi, Jordan’s Prime Minister, Noora Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Jamal bin Huwaireb, chief executive of the foundation as well as Michael O’Neill, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General.

On the sidelines, the foundation is organising a series of events, including the inaugural Knowledge Week, which includes several knowledge-focused activities and enlists a number of government and private-sector entities.

Knowledge Week kickstarted its activities on November 19 and is set to continue until November 23.