Computers are oversold and underused in Middle East classrooms

Promoting the Knowledge Economy in the Arab World

From SAGE Open

This article discusses the need for a deeper institutional reform that will bring Arab classrooms into the 21st century. The research studies educational programs in Bahrain, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, information and communication technology (ICT) is not effectively utilized in classrooms in the Middle East. Many technology-related policies overlook the real needs of students. While ICT infrastructure aims to incorporate electronic classes and teaching systems that enhance students’ and teachers’ technological abilities, in reality it has become little more than a way to mechanically optimize the operation of equipment and to perpetuate cultural traditions. The author observes “This is undoubtedly a reflection of the difficulties inherent in implementing an agenda for modernization and reform within countries which have only been free from colonial domination for a few decades”. He called for more rigorous research that goes beyond mere speculation about ICT implementation. “If the findings from this research are able to identify best practices that can be replicated in different settings, then educationalists can begin to be satisfied that computers in the classroom are not just ‘oversold and underused’.”


This article looks at the information and communication technology (ICT)–related education reform programs in three countries in the Middle East. It indicates the evident policy linkage between the implementation of school-based ICT programs and the development of pupils’ 21st-century skills to address the knowledge economy. The policy aspirations are put in the context of the history of education in the region and the Islamic traditions and beliefs about the nature of knowledge. The impact of the reforms is evaluated on the basis of realities of day-to-day life in schools as reported by independent inspection, review, and evaluation agencies. It concludes that much deeper institutional reform is necessary to fulfill the policy aspirations rather than speculating over progress through technology-enriched futures.

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Article details
Lightfoot, M. (2011). Promoting the Knowledge Economy in the Arab World SAGE Open DOI: 10.1177/2158244011417457

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