ARAB GULF DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
(AGFUND) AND UNESCO TO LAUNCH ARAB OPEN UNIVERSITY
Paris, October 5 (No.2001-102)
- An Arab Open University, designed to meet a shortage in university places in
the Arab region and improve women’s access to higher education, is to start
operating in October 2002.
Focusing initially on courses
in business administration, computer science and technology, English, and
teacher training, the Open University will be headquartered in Kuwait with
branches in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.
The project for an Arab Open
University was initiated by the President of the Arab Gulf Programme for United
Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND), Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi
Arabia, who signed a co-operation agreement on the project with UNESCO
Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura in Paris today.
AGFUND will provide over US$1.5
million for the Arab Open University - covering approximately half its total
cost - with an initial allotment of US$200,000 to UNESCO to fund the
Organization’s contribution to the project. UNESCO’s input will notably
centre on developing the university’s strategy for distance higher education,
setting up a distance learning centre, multimedia production, satellite network
and videoconferencing, virtual library, recruitment of experts and staff
A feasibility study conducted
for the Open University project in 1998 showed that the Arab countries suffered
from a shortage of 600,000 university places and demonstrated an increasing
demand for higher education among working secondary school graduates who do not
have a university degree. The need for further education is particularly great
among teachers and people in employment who need to upgrade their skills or
The Arab Open Unversity will
use distance learning, drawing on information and communication technologies, to
make higher and continuing education accessible to Arab citizens regardless of
their place of residence. It will prioritize women’s access to education.
The Open University will not
seek to replace existing universities in the region, but will co-operate with
them, notably by employing staff of other universities on a part time basis, and
using the facilities of other universities outside normal working hours and on
Since its creation in 1982,
AGFUND has provided funding to over 600 United Nations projects, including more
than 60 UNESCO projects.
For more information: http://www.agfund.org/eaou.html