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Celebration of Service

IT’s a Suitcase!

Helping to carry education into Egyptian classrooms

Everyone wants the best possible education for their kids, and today that means they must be able to communicate with the whole world. Internationally, English is the most widely spoken and written language, so most countries work to ensure their children are fluent.

In Egypt, IBM volunteers are working to bring technology into classrooms across the nation to help children learn English. Using an IT Suitcase, a basic technology package filled with a laptop, projector, screen and speakers, teachers can take their classes through lessons that are delivered with the assistance of technology not previously available to schools.

“By supporting this project, IBM facilitates a better learning experience for kids in schools in different cities across Egypt,” says Hassan Shaheen, an IBM software sales manager, and a spokesperson for the volunteer project. He adds: “We also are helping one of our very energetic non-governmental organizations (NGO) on a key initiative for better education for Egypt's kids.”

The NGO Hassan refers to, Technology for Improved Learning Outcomes (TILO), is a program that works with the Ministry of Education in nine administrative areas across Egypt to improve the quality of teaching and learning through the use of technology in schools. It offers an intensive package of teacher training, digital resources and technology for schools. It also works to train both schools and communities to participate in the process, helping establish local sustainability in education.

TILO pioneered the use of IT Suitcases in Egypt four years ago. The program has been extremely successful, but not every school has benefited. Also, there was a need to expand how English was taught in the schools.

“I am personally interested in helping advance the education system in Egypt,” says Hassan, “And I thought it was really interesting to use IBM technology to help.”

The IBM Reading Companion and IBM Kidsmart Young Explorer Software are two platforms Egypt’s IBM volunteers will use in four Cairo classrooms as part of a pilot project. The Reading Companion uses voice-recognition software to help children learn English, and the Kidsmart software helps them learn and explore math, science and language. The volunteers will also work with teachers, training them in basic IT skills and helping them with computer literacy.

“We need to increase children’s knowledge of English, which will make them more prepared for working in the local and global market place,” says Hassan. “It will also help during college and post-graduate studies by giving them better research capabilities and global exposure.”

The volunteer project is important, Hassan says, as it provides a pathway towards a better future for his country.

“I sincerely believe that by giving the next generation a better chance at education, we are giving them the best we can to help them prosper and shine. Egypt needs this now more than ever.”

IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.