Educational materials in the Arabic language, will be available for free online through the Open Book Project launched last month by the U.S. Department of State in cooperation with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO).
“Through the Open Book Project, we will work to expand access to free, high-quality, open education materials in Arabic, with a focus on science and technology. Our hope is to lower geographic, economic, and even gender-based barriers to learning,” said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a briefing to announce the initiative. “Anyone with access to the Internet will be able to read, download and print the open materials for free or adapt a copy that meets the local needs of their classrooms or education systems.”
The project will focus on the creation of Arabic-language resources on science and technology, so Clinton pointed out the historical connection, “You could say we are returning to a very old tradition, because at a time when Europe was still in the dark ages, Arab scholars preserved seminal writings from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome that would have otherwise have been lost.”
According to the secretary, working with ALECSO and others to create free access to quality educational materials demonstrates to Arabic-speaking publics America’s interest in helping them realize their economic aspirations, “We see educational diplomacy as the means for fulfilling the obligations to try to match reality and actions with the aspirations and hopes of the men and women across the Arab world.”
But, she also stressed the importance of local input; “We know it’s not enough to generate the right material. We have to work together to make sure it is connected to Arab educators, students, and classrooms, and I hope we can put a full year of high-quality college-level science textbooks — biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus — online, for free, in Arabic. And we also want to help Arab professors and intellectuals create their own open courses.”