As part of broader efforts to counter Covid’s effects on our children’s learning, Coptic Orphans was honored to sponsor the International Scientific Conference on Pre-University Education at Assiut University, under the banner Technology and Facing Crises in Pre-University Education.
The April 11-12 conference officially kicked off with the arrival of Assiut Governor General Essam Saad and Assiut University President Dr. Tarek Al Gamal. All told, approximately 120 guests participated over the course of the conference.
Coptic Orphans Area Program Manager Aida Abdou welcomed the attendees and gave the first speech as an official conference sponsor. Her speech introduced both the conference and Coptic Orphans’ mission to serve the fatherless children of Egypt by providing them with access to quality education through programs such as Not Alone. She also acknowledged the representatives of six Assiut community development organizations, all of them local partners with Coptic Orphans, who were in attendance.
During the two-day conference, several professors presented their research findings on the subject of technology and pre-university education. There were also roundtable discussions about how the various organizations in attendance can work together in the future.
“In all, it was a very enlightening and fruitful experience for all who attended,” said Abdou. “Our staff met with many people who are dedicated to ensuring that every child in Assiut – and all of Egypt – receive a quality education.”
Coptic Orphans has a long history of cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Education. This relationship has grown even more important since the outbreak of the pandemic last spring, when the ministry shut down all in-person learning during the spring 2020 semester and transitioned to online learning in the 2019-20 school year. Coptic Orphans responded by securing internet access for the children in our program, so that they could continue their studies online, making us pioneers in Egypt’s e-learning sector.
In the 2021-22 academic year, the ministry has extended a ban on transitional private lessons, as they are rolling out a new online platform that will handle all private lessons for the next three years. The ministry is also working with tech companies such as YouTube to host a variety of online curricula, parent-teacher conferences, e-book libraries and test prep courses.
To ensure the children we serve continue to receive the best education possible, Coptic Orphans is taking steps to help every child transition to these new, digital-based learning platforms. Already, our program has provided students in our care with laptops, internet access, at-home study essentials such as desks, and assistance with paying for electricity. Our volunteer Reps are continuing to support the children and mothers as they grapple with the challenges the new era of online learning poses.
Coptic Orphans remains committed to working with our partners, both public and private, to advance learning in the digital age. The sponsorship of Technology and Facing Crises in Pre-University Education marks an important step forward in our work with government, academic, and community partners in education, and serves as a model for what diaspora organizations can do to catalyze positive change for all Egyptians.