Qatar: Distance education from India gets popular among Arabs

Qatar: Distance education from India gets popular among Arabs

November 7, 2004

I picked up this story in today’s issue of The Peninsula, Qatar’s leading English Daily. It should be a wake-up call in America.

Ahamed Ottayil–Doha: Distance education courses of some Indian universities conducted by National Education Centre (NEC) in Doha are becoming increasingly popular with Indian and Arab students in Qatar.

According to NEC’s director, Ahamed Ottayil, some 20 per cent of the students enrolled for various courses are Arabs, mainly Sudanese and Palestinians. NEC offers graduate and post-graduate courses in various disciplines from Calicut University in Kerala and Alagappa University in neighbouring Tamil Nadu state.

India has built an education system that is churning out large numbers of smart, motivated, highly-trained engineers. They have plans to launch an educational satellite to bring education to rural areas. Now they are exporting high-quality, low-cost education to the Arabian Gulf.

This is great news for the people who will be able to take advantage of the education opportunities. It is the only long-term answer to global poverty. But it should also serve as a prod to US leaders that we need to use technology to drive down the cost of education in America.

We need to drive the cost of college education from $40,000 per year to $400 per year and educate every child in the country who will sit still long enough to learn.

With high-speed communications, there is no excuse for a child anywhere in America not having access to the best teachers in the world via on-line distance learning programs like the ones described in this article.

Today, there are impediments to doing this. One, the lack of high-speed networkd in small towns across the country, will be dealt with inthe new telecom law next year. The other, obstructionist procedures for new distance-learning programs to receive accreditation–and therefore enroll members of the military–has got to go.

If President Bush wants an unerasable place inthe history books, forcing the changes that would make education affordable would be a good place to start.

John Rutledge

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