The edX Consortium has announced this week a partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor to start in September a MOOC portal in Arabic, intended for women, youth, disabled people and citizens in rural areas.
The courseware will combine originally produced content with existing courses licensed by edX university members and translated into Arabic. This portal, empowered by Open edX technology, “will deliver vocational and employability skills to historically underserved learners in the region,” explained Anant Agarwal, CEO at the edX Consortium.
The initiative follows edX’s adoption model as implemented in countries like France (fun-mooc.fr), China (XuetangX.org), Jordan (edraak.org), Mexico and Rwanda, and it comes at a time wherein the private sector is growing rapidly and business opportunities are expanding in Saudi Arabia –a country wherein the public sector accounts for two-thirds of employment and about 30 percent of young people and women are unemployed, according to the IMF.
Saudi Arabia will make a “significant investment in Open edX and edX’s services”, according to edX. It will be a multi-year collaboration that includes “a research component focused on learning through innovative technologies and R&D”.
A MOOC competitor in the region is Queen Rania Foundation’s Edraak.org, a portal launched in May 2014 as the first not-for-profit Arab platform for MOOCs. The initiative was born also as a result of a partnership with the edX Consortium.
Back then pretty much the same enthusiastic comments were officially released. “We are honored to be a part of Edraak that will open up a world of possibility for intellectually hungry Arab youth and Arab-speaking students worldwide,” said edX Consortium in May. In its latest PR release there was no mention of edraak.org’s project.