The world has long stood in awe of Egypt’s rich and glorious history, rightfully so. Pharaohs, pyramids, temples, great wonders, unsolved mysteries, fascinating mythology, astounding archaeological monuments, a legendary ancient civilization, and, not to forget, the Great Library of Alexandria, one of the largest knowledge repositories and learning hubs in the ancient world, that helped Egypt establish itself, over the centuries, as a prominent cultural and intellectual centre. In the digital era, the Government of Egypt has thought of an up-to-date solution of re-creating such a knowledge hub that provides customized responses to the needs of 21st Century people.
The Land of the Nile has recently been making the headlines with its growing national online knowledge bank. Founded by Dr Tarek Shawky, the Minister of Education and Technical Education in Egypt (MoETE), and launched in 2016 under the patronage of President Abdel El-Fattah El-Sisi, the Egyptian Knowledge Bank (EKB) is a ground-breaking, expanding platform that grants all Egyptian nationals of all ages (estimated at around 100 million people) free access to the largest amount of knowledge, research, cultural and scientific content, journals, periodicals, and education resources for all education levels in English and Arabic.
The EKB has attracted significant traffic by creating a dedicated website and partnering with big world-renowned publishing houses and pioneers in several fields, that rushed to have their contents published and made available to readers, researchers, children, students, educators and the general public. The platform also offers capacity-building opportunities and hosts workshops and events covering a wide range of topics and disciplines. All Egyptians living in Egypt can create a free user account to access the platform and participate in its workshops and events, using their National ID and email address. Foreigners who live and study in Egypt are granted access to EKB resources upon issuance of required permissions from competent entities. It is also important to note that an EKB mobile application is expected to be launched soon to facilitate access and maximize reach.
“Towards a society that thinks, learns and innovates”. That is the vision of the EKB which aims to build knowledge and capacities as well as to advance education and scientific discovery in Egypt.
However, with the onset of COVID-19, this vision developed. The EKB was given a new role: ensuring education continuity. In fact, when the COVID situation started to get worse worldwide in March 2020 and schools were closed to contain the viral spread, the Egyptian Ministry of Education and Technical Education had a ready-to-use eLearning infrastructure.
Building on the existing platform, the Ministry extended the services of the availed EKB Learning Management System and launched a study portal under EKB to provide interactive learning materials (lessons, videos, games and presentations) covering the curricula of all grades between K-12 to ensure that learning never stops.
To complement these efforts, a partnership was established between MoETE and Edmodo to provide teachers and students a space to communicate and hold virtual classrooms.
The EKB’s added value comes from its adaptability and scalability. The digital learning solutions it provided and continues to provide have already expedited the education reform efforts in Egypt.
Although the EKB is still very much confined to Egyptian nationals, there is talk about expanding the scope of the platform and establishing synergies with other similar initiatives across the Arab region. Let’s see what the future holds for this promising endeavour.