A look at the education technology market in the Middle East


As the global education technology market continues to grow, we take a look at what this means for the Middle East.

With the global education market expected to grow at 18% CAGR to reach US$40 billion by 2022, it’s no wonder that companies across the Middle East and the globe are exploring new ways to bring technology into classrooms and universities. 

The World Economic Forum has suggested that demand for technology skills will continue to grow by 20% by 2025, creating more than two million jobs over the next five years.

For the education sector in the Middle East, this means that start-ups and ‘edupreneurs’ are making big investments into new approaches, tools and platforms across the learning spectrum. 

The Middle East's education technology market

With education, comes big business


It has been reported that governments in the Middle East are allocating as much as 19% of their budgets to education – above the global average – as they see its importance for progress and economic development. Not only is the Middle East supporting e-learning initiatives as a way to improve education delivery, but it is also looking at ways for students’ parents to be able to engage more directly with their teachers. 

The UAE Ministry of Education is expected to expand its spend on e-learning initiatives by 60% to a worth of US$7.1 billion in 2023, with the Ministry of Education in Egypt committing to connecting 2,500 secondary schools to fibre-optic internet or Wi-Fi as part of a push to give every student access to a tablet computer. 

In terms of parent-teacher engagement, digital technology provides an opportunity to help the two communicate more directly. With research showing that parental involvement in a child’s learning improves their performance, start-ups in the Middle East are developing platforms that help parents and teachers converse in real time. 

Future proofing its students


“The UAE’s strong investment in educational technology shows that schools and universities are leading innovations to make campuses safer and more efficient, to enhance learning experiences, and to prepare students for the future workforce,” says Andrew Calthorpe, CEO of UAE-based IT infrastructure and information management consultancy Condo Protego. 

He says that all educational institutions and professional development organisations need to focus on the ways that digital technology can improve on education, with hyper-connected campuses that provide students with easy access to educational content. 

“Mobile apps on the cloud can replace textbooks and provide immersive learning. Collaboration can make project work faster and faster,” says Andrew. 

Cloud service and artificial intelligence


While not specific to the education technology sector, the cloud and artificial intelligence are reported to be two key factors in the digital transformation of the Middle East. Cloud service companies are reportedly worth US$2.2 million within the region currently but are predicted to grow by an average of 24% a year. 

“We see enormous opportunity in the region for cloud technology to be the key driver of economic development, while providing sustainable solutions to many pressing issues such as youth employability, skills development, education and healthcare,” says Jaime Galviz, COO and CMO at Microsoft Middle East and Africa. 

In terms of artificial intelligence, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, says “[artificial intelligence] is the next major revolution of our time and the UAE’s goal is to become one of the most advanced countries in this regard”. 

An ever-evolving sector


While the education technology scene in the Middle East might not necessarily have funding the likes of Asia or India, the region benefits from a large and fast-growing private sector with “schools looking for innovative ways to differentiate themselves from competitors,” says Muhammed Mekki, founding partner of Astrolabs.
 
The start-up culture of education technology in the region is key, as the entrepreneurs behind these start-ups help to expand access to quality education and tackle some of the biggest challenges faced in education in the Middle East. 

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