From : firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent : Monday, November 1, 2004 2:35 PM
To : email@example.com
Subject : Winning Hearts and Minds in the Middle East with Opportunity
Dear Dr. Fawzi,
Attached is my 837 word Op-Ed piece responding to Assistant Secretary of
State Patricia Harrison’s 9/11 Commission Report testimony.
For the past decade, Kidz Online has helped under-served kids in America
learn technology skills to bridge the digital divide. There are nearly twice
as many un-served kids in Arab countries desperately seeking opportunity,
and it is in America’s best interest to help youth in this volatile region
so that they will become agents of pro-reform and pro-technology. Peer
training with teens and technology is a solution for creating jobs in the
Arab World while also bridging the cultural divide.
I am a serial entrepreneur: founder of three start-up companies and have
served as CEO of two public companies. I have also written over 70 articles
published in national magazines and trade journals.
Phil Cruver, President
2214 Rock Hill Road, Suite 020
Herndon, Virginia 20170
571-203-8990, EX. 110
Winning Hearts and Minds in the Middle East with Opportunity
On August 19th, 2004, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and
Cultural Affairs, Patricia S. Harrison, testified before the House
International Relations Committee about the findings and recommendations of
the 9/11 Commission’s Report. She emphatically stated that we must offer
opportunity to Middle Eastern youth as a public diplomacy measure for
combating terrorism. Fostering opportunity for youth is indeed one on the
major challenges facing the region, and thus, our world today.
Consider: In some Middle Eastern countries, more than half the population is
under the age 15. Projections indicate that in the next 22 years, the entire
Arab population of about 300 million will double. Today, about half the Arab
world’s young people find themselves without work with youth unemployment
ranging from 37% in Morocco to 73% in Syria.
First time job seekers will require nearly 100 million new jobs over the
next two decades according to the World Bank. This is more than the number
of jobs created in the region during the past fifty years. If afforded
economic and employment opportunities, youth in the Middle East can become
key agents for social change, economic development and technological
innovation. Without opportunities, these youngsters will become militant and
embrace destructive alternatives.
In August, 2004, 60 students from the Middle East visited Kidz Online in
Northern Virginia for a day of building bridges across cultures using
technology as the cohesive element. A 15 year old student from Syria
insightfully articulated: “The unemployment problem in my country is
directly related to the education system which must be changed so that the
outcome of education fits with the labor market”.
Systemic change in education must include 21st century skills to improve the
quality and relevance of an education system that will better prepare Arab
youth for higher paying professional jobs. Leaders in the Middle East must
accept that modern, secular education is an inevitable and crucial credo for
opportunity. They must adopt this creed if they wish to prepare and inspire
a demanding new generation of youth to contribute to their economies.
Opportunities are on the way! The Computing Technology Industry Association
(CompTIA), is aggressively adapting its certifications to encourage
Information Technology careers for Middle Eastern youth. CompTIA
certification programs are globally recognized industry standards for
foundation-level skills for validating knowledge and competency. With over a
million certified technicians in 102 countries, CompTIA is translating their
certifications into Arabic to meet this exploding demand for 100 million new
jobs in the Middle East.
This initiative is not entirely altruistic. 21st century skills will produce
jobs for Middle East youth, reduce the appeal of radical, anti-western
philosophies and will also assist in developing markets for American
technology products and services.
The Internet has the greatest potential for creating new opportunities for
Arab youth by opening a window into a modern world with new ways of
communicating and learning. It is the only medium capable of facilitating
rapid and scalable 21st century skill development in the Region’s effort to
overcome further invasive unemployment. Moreover, it can provide unfettered
communication between young people in the Arabic world and their global
peers who are increasingly using the Internet as the media medium of choice.
However, communication and information access poses a threat to the cultural
and traditional values of many in the Arab world. The challenge will be
convincing this conservative constituency that continued isolation from
modern technology is detrimental to their families’ well-being because this
perceived threat hinders education and employment.
The ambitious aspiration of universal Internet adoption in the Arab world
promises profound opportunities for their teeming masses of next generation
learners if they are to acquire the requisite skills to compete in the 21st
century. New technologies have amplified the power and ease of online
learning and globalization is extending its reach. Global education is
nearing a “tipping point”, the front end of a dramatic inflection that is
setting the stage for its transformation during the next decade and the Arab
world is positioned to exploit this opportunity to meet the demand for 100
million new jobs.
The good news is there are local resources to pay for this opportunity in a
region that controls a preponderance of the world’s oil reserves. The
Economist Magazine has estimated that “With oil prices at their highest
level in two decades, revenues of $600 million a day are gushing into the
Gulf, double the volume during the 1990s. The monarchies of the Gulf
Cooperation Council are alone likely to earn $35 billion more from oil
exports this year than last…” - and that excludes big producers such as
Algeria, Libya and Iraq.
As Assistant Secretary Harrison pointed out during her 9/11 Commission
Report testimony: “This is not the work of weeks or months. It is the work
of years and generations.” Technological solutions and resources exist for
providing opportunities to youth in the Middle East, but getting the command
from leadership will take time. Showcasing successful pilot projects will
compress this timetable from generations to years.