Pearson announces new Customer Support initiative for digital customers

Region-wide service reflects growing digital education trend. 

Pearson announces today that a new Customer Contact Centre will be launched in the Middle East, catering to the needs of digital customers across the region.

The new service team, based in a state-of-the-art centre in Cairo, will provide telephone, email, web-form and chat support for a series of Pearson digital products across the higher education and schools markets. The service will be available in both English and Arabic.

The new service will be fully functional by the start of the new academic year in September, when demand for support is at its highest. All calls will be taken by a team of locally-based, highly-trained tech experts. In the instance of complex and difficult enquiries, Pearson’s support teams in the United States and United Kingdom can also be called on to resolve customer issues.

Pearson says the new service will:

  • Provide highly responsive, accurate and flexible support to its regional customers.
  • Establish a more consistent and scalable approach to customer support in the Middle East.
  • Ensure Pearson digital customers can utilise the full features and benefits of their digital products as easily as possible.

Mr Alex Moore, Head of Pearson’s Gulf, Egypt and Maghreb markets says of the new Centre:

“Pearson’s new Customer Support Centre in Cairo brings together local and international expertise to ensure Pearson customers get the help they need, in English or Arabic, when they need it. We have invested significant resources to make this new service highly accessible to all our digital customers in the region so that they can enjoy fast, reliable advice from technical experts, and enjoy maximum benefit from their digital product. Our aim is to make teaching and learning more engaging and ultimately more effective, and the establishment of the new Customer Contact Centre in Cairo is one way we are achieving this goal in the Middle East”.

Dr. Wassim Daher from Gulf University for Science and Technology, Kuwait says the new service is welcomed by both learners and educators.

“Having a service that educators and learners can easily access is vital to being able to use digital products in the classroom effectively. My students are often working to tight deadlines, so for them to be able to rely on Pearson’s new Customer Support Centre when they are working hard to get an assignment or assessment in on time is important. For educators like me, it is assuring to know that I can access accurate support through a simple phone call or email. It makes my job easier and allows me to focus on helping my students achieve their best results”.

The new service will be available to Pearson customers from August 9th 2015. To access the centre via telephone, email, web-form or online chat, Pearson customers can visit http://support.pearson.com.

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Pearson announces new Customer Support initiative for digital customers

Region-wide service reflects growing digital education trend.

Pearson announces today that a new Customer Contact Centre will be launched in the Middle East, catering to the needs of digital customers across the region.

The new service team, based in a state-of-the-art centre in Cairo, will provide telephone, email, web-form and chat support for a series of Pearson digital products across the higher education and schools markets. The service will be available in both English and Arabic.

The new service will be fully functional by the start of the new academic year in September, when demand for support is at its highest. All calls will be taken by a team of locally-based, highly-trained tech experts. In the instance of complex and difficult enquiries, Pearson’s support teams in the United States and United Kingdom can also be called on to resolve customer issues.

Pearson says the new service will:

  • Provide highly responsive, accurate and flexible support to its regional customers.
  • Establish a more consistent and scalable approach to customer support in the Middle East.
  • Ensure Pearson digital customers can utilise the full features and benefits of their digital products as easily as possible.

Mr Karim Daoud, Pearson’s Managing Director in the Middle East says the establishment of the new service centre is part of Pearson’s ongoing commitment to providing the best possible customer support to the company’s Middle East customers:

“Schools, universities and colleges across the Middle East are embracing digital education resources at a rapid pace as educators and policy makers come to understand the benefits digital resources can bring in the classroom. However, here at Pearson, we are firm believers that in order to be effective, digital education resources need to be used in the right way. Having high quality support on hand to our digital customers will ensure that they can always gain maximum benefit from their digital resources and exploit the full potential of the technology”.

Dr. Saadia Khouyibaba from the American University of Sharjah says both learners and educators will welcome the new service.

“Here at AUS we use a range of Pearson digital products. We are delighted that at the start of the new semester, when students (and sometimes educators) are accessing new products for the first time, they will have access to such reliable and helpful support from Pearson. This support will help trouble shoot teething problems quickly and allow users to make the most of the technology. I am confident that this new service will help our educators be more efficient and effective and our students more engaged with their learning experience”.

The new service will be available to Pearson customers from August 9th 2015. To access the centre via telephone, email, web-form or online chat, Pearson customers can access the new service at http://support.pearson.com.

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Unicef and Pearson Announce Innovation Talks

Organisations to collaborate on how innovation can help the world’s most marginalised children 

Unicef UK and Pearson are holding a series of high level events over the next year which will bring together experts, thought-leaders and innovators from a range of industries and countries across the world. The ‘Activate Talks’ will examine how new technologies, products and businesses can help tackle the major issues confronting the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised children.

The talks will hold particular relevance for the Middle East, where conflict and civil strife continue to disrupt the education systems of several countries across the region. According to Unicef’s 2014 “Out of School Report” for the Middle East and North Africa, 4.3 million primary-aged children and 2.9 million lower secondary-aged children not in school. If one year of pre-primary education is included – the foundation on which a child’s future learning is built – a staggering 12.3 million children across 20 countries in the region are being left behind.

Pearson’s Managing Director in the Middle East, Karim Daoud, believes the Activate Talks will go some way to improving the outlook for marginalised children in the region by making innovative education solutions more widely available. Mr Daoud says:

“By bringing together development professionals, innovators and businesses to address this issue, the Activate Talks can have a real impact on communities which don’t enjoy the access to education that they deserve. Whether access is restricted by cultural factors, issues with transportation or simply cost, Pearson and Unicef UK hope this new dialogue leads to new partnerships and solutions which contribute to addressing these important challenges in the Middle East and around the world”.

The first in this series of Activate Talks took place in London on the 25 June on the topic of Future Learning. It focussed on the challenge of addressing the learning needs of the world’s young people, an estimated 250 million of which are unable to read and write. Moderated by BBC Click presenter Spencer Kelly, speakers included:

  • Juan Pablo Giraldo Ospino: Innovation Specialist at UNICEF Education
  • Tom Hall: VP – Technology Delivery, Growth Markets at Pearson
  • Mike Muller: Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer at ARM Holdings
  • Dr. Aiman Badri: National Programme Officer for UNESCO in Sudan
  • Kate Radford: Innovation Programmes Manager at War Child Holland
  • Alison Naftalin: Founder & CEO at Lively Minds
  • Juan Santander: Chief of Social Policy, Planning, M&E at UNICEF Lebanon
  • Zoe Peden: Co-Founder & Chief Juggler at Insane Logic
  • Vu Bui: COO of Mojang

Katherine Crisp, Unicef UK’s Head of Strategy and Innovation, said: “10 years ago, no-one in development imagined they would be using mobile phones to gather real-time information.

Today UNICEF uses them to report every birth in Nigeria, track educational supplies in Uganda and engage with over 800,000 young people globally via U-Report. However, this is just the start. Through our series of Activate Talks we want to foster dialogue, explore challenges, share different approaches and spark collaborations with new people. Together we want to build a better future for children.”

Amanda Gardiner, Pearson’s VP of Sustainability and Social Innovation, said: “Globally 58 million children are out of school and 250 million leave without basic skills. These vulnerable children need our help to receive the education they so rightfully deserve to make progress in their lives. We are delighted to be working with Unicef UK on this Activate Talks series. We want to spark innovative solutions to help tackle the challenges that affect the most marginalised children around the world.”

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Pearson helping to improve vocational education in Lebanon

World’s largest education company providing new vocational programmes and educator training

Beirut: Pearson, the world’s largest education company, has renewed its commitment to education in Lebanon with the launch of new initiatives designed to promote technical and vocational education in the country.

These initiatives include:

  • Through its partner, Librairie du Liban Publishers (LDLP), a Sayegh Company, Pearson’s BTEC and LCCI Qualifications will now be available in Lebanon. LCCI qualifications are some of the world’s best recognised and most highly regarded business-related qualifications covering business, language and finance. LCCI also offers a wide range of English language assessment capabilities. Pearson’s globally recognised BTEC programmes are work-related qualifications that allow progression into university with a practical, real-world approach to learning without sacrificing essential subject theory.
  • Lebanese training centres are now able to apply for ‘Pearson Assured Status’ – an independent, internationally recognised sign of an institute’s commitment to providing quality programmes and teaching.
  • Pearson education experts are working with LDLP and training centres to provide training on the new Pearson qualifications so that they can fully understand and utilise Pearson’s international expertise and resources.

It is hoped that the newly available qualifications will help improve the job prospects of many young Lebanese at a time when the World Bank has put the country’s rate of youth unemployment at 34% and only 46% of Lebanon’s working age population are currently employed in paid work.

As education experts are keen to point out, reversing existing employment trends will take more than creating new jobs or channeling school leavers into university, with the country experiencing a surplus of degree holders. A much needed boost to technical and vocational education and training is needed, as organisations increasingly demand employees with vocational skills and qualifications, but typically find candidates with these qualities hard to recruit.

Nassim Ershaed, Pearson’s Regional Director for the Arabian Gulf and Levant, believes the structural gap between market needs and the education system needs to be addressed if youth unemployment is to be successfully reduced. He says:

“Part of the solution to youth unemployment and closing the country’s skills gap lies in closer attention being paid to the vocational training sector. Revitalising technical and vocational education in Lebanon through new, quality programmes and content, as well as training motivated and knowledgeable educators, will be key to building a highly skilled and enthusiastic workforce.

“A key way Pearson works to ensure its technical and vocational offerings are responsive to the needs of the workplace is by collaborating closely with employers to develop programmes and content that fulfill the needs of industry. Graduates of such programmes are placed in high-demand amongst potential employers as their skill-base is a good match for the industry they are looking to work in. Qualifications of this kind are a strong guarantee of a young person’s future success in finding meaningful and sustainable employment. It is therefore of fundamental importance that we make certain access to qualifications of this kind become widely available throughout Lebanon”.

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New global education research holds important lessons for the Middle East

Renowned education expert John Hattie says school choice, teacher performance pay and reducing class sizes are part of a “politics of distraction”

Learning company Pearson today publishes two new reports by the world-leading education expert Professor John Hattie which call into question some of the key reform policies pursued by governments in the last twenty years. Hattie’s research promises to be useful for education policy makers throughout the Arab World as governments in the region to seek to overhaul education systems with a view to improving student performance.

Karim Daoud, Managing Director of Pearson in the region says:

“We are seeing governments in the GCC, and throughout the Middle East, funnelling billions into modernising their education systems with the aim of better preparing learners for the demands of a 21st Century world. This new research published by Pearson’s Open Ideas Programme gives decision-makers advice about what John Hattie believes works in education and what doesn’t, helping make good on what is a very substantial investment from many countries throughout the region”.

Hattie questions widespread government focus on policies including longer school days, teacher performance pay, and reducing class sizes all of which he says are less important than the variability in education outcomes and teacher effectiveness within any one school.

In the first report, titled “What Doesn’t Work in Education: the Politics of Distraction” Hattie calls out a number of popular, but low impact, policy “distractors”, including:

  • Longer school days: lengthening the school day or year, a very expensive fix, is shown to have little effect, as there is no positive correlation between instructional time and student achievement.
  • Performance pay: compensating teachers based on performance alone is proven to only increase stress levels, while decreasing enthusiasm. A better solution is increased pay for increased expertise or helping fellow teachers improve their skills.
  • Smaller class sizes: the evidence shows that teachers tend not to change their teaching approach, regardless of class size; therefore smaller classrooms do not have as much of an impact as anticipated.
  • Technology as a magic bullet: currently, technology is mostly used in the classroom as yet another way for students to consume facts and knowledge. In order to have a transformational impact on teaching and learning, technology needs to be seen as a tool to support teachers.
  • Choice of school: too much attention is paid to the differences between schools, when the evidence shows that the greater issue is the difference within schools, particularly the variability among teachers. Hattie concludes that the classroom that a student is assigned to within a school matters more than the school itself.
  • Initial teacher education: studies show teacher education programmes have among the lowest overall impact of all the influences on student achievement. Instead, more focus should be placed on the first year of full-time classroom teaching, which is where the greatest learning happens for teachers.

Professor Hattie, an education expert at the University of Melbourne who has dedicated his career to opening up the “black box” of learning, challenges policymakers around the world to reevaluate their strategies for improving learning using the available evidence on what does and doesn’t work in education.

He asserts that it’s our obligation to provide every student with at least one year of learning progress for one year of input, regardless of their academic achievement level when they begin. And he identifies within-school variability – most critically, the variability in the effectiveness of teachers within any given school – as a fundamental problem to be addressed.

Building on his world-renowned Visible Learning work, which examines the relative impact of various education interventions on student learning, Hattie shows that many of our most politically popular structural fixes, such as school choice or reduced class size, are simply “distractors”: they have had little impact on student learning despite costing billions of dollars. The evidence tells us that a much higher impact strategy is to develop a culture of “collaborative expertise” in our schools and systems.

What works best in education: building a culture of collaborative expertise

In the second report, “What Works Best in Education: the Politics of Collaborative Expertise”, Hattie lays out a series of tasks designed to reduce the problem of within-school variability by seeking out and scaling up teacher expertise. These tasks include:

  • teachers working together to develop a common language around student success criteria for a year’s schooling
  • teachers making learning more personal for students at varying levels by using appropriate diagnosis, intervention, and evaluation tools
  • leaders working with their staff to continuously evaluate the impact on student learning.

The papers are published by Pearson as part of their “Open Ideas” series, in which independent experts from around the world provide their views on the big, unanswered questions in education.

Professor John Hattie said:

“Despite the best of intentions, education has become fraught with the politics of distraction, most drawing us away from the critical work at hand. That is, ensuring that each student makes at least one year of progress for one year of effort. If we truly want to improve student learning, it is vital that we shift our narrative about teaching and learning away from these distractions, and begin the critical work of building up collaborative expertise in our schools and education systems.”

Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor Sir Michael Barber said:

“Pearson is working with some of the best minds in education to bring their diverse and independent ideas and insights to a wider audience. These pieces can sometimes be provocative; they are certainly always interesting. The current papers by John Hattie are a brilliant example of this -  they prompt the right questions and start the right debates.

“Using the evidence that he has amassed over the course of his extensive career, John has produced a provocative synthesis of the most popular policy interventions in education, and their relative impact on learning, most of which he finds lacking in terms of the size of impact we should expect.

“Our aim is that these papers, which include John’s proposed model of collaborative expertise, will challenge thinking along all points of the political spectrum and hopefully inspire policy changes that will help deliver the best possible outcomes for students.”

The full papers are available at pearson.com/hattie.

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Ramadan Kareem

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Pearson welcomes World Bank’s $5 billion education pledge

Separate commitments from Pearson and World Bank focus on promoting evidenced-based learning and the uptake of basic skills.

Pearson, the world’s largest learning company, has welcomed the World Bank’s renewed commitment to improving basic education in some of the world’s poorest countries.

On the eve of the World Education Forum in South Korea, the President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim announced the Bank would be doubling its funding for results-based education to US$5 billion over the next five years.

The additional funds will be allocated towards evidence-based solutions that improve both the quality and equity of education, ensuring young people have access to education that will provide them with the basic skills needed to break the poverty cycle.

Pearson has also recently announced plans to invest in ventures that provide education to low income learners in emerging markets through the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund. The Fund, launched in 2012, has just pledged an additional $50 million towards new projects, using market-based returns as a condition of continued investment. The Fund also provides good governance and operational support to education entrepreneurs in developing economies.

Karim Daoud, Managing Director of Pearson in the Middle East, has pointed to the importance of investing in education as a means of breaking the poverty cycle and raising national standards of living.

“A quality education has a powerful impact on individuals and the communities in which they live, and the ripples of this impact drive real change at a national level. For all educated children, employment rates and living standards are higher; for educated girls, motherhood occurs later, the birth rate is lower and the survival rate for mother and child is higher. As a result, the better a country’s level of education, the lower its rates of poverty, maternal and infant mortality and the higher its rates of workforce productivity and economic growth.”

Mr Daoud also stressed the need to ensure investments in education are measurably improving educational outcomes, a goal of particular pertinence here in the Middle East.

“There is no doubt that getting children throughout the region into school is an important step. Too many children around the world do not even have the chance to enter a classroom. However, it also essential that we ensure that children are actually learning once in school”.

A 2014 report from the Brookings Institution showed that of those children enrolled in school in the Middle East, half are not receiving a good-quality education. The report, based on 13 Arab countries with available data, stated that 56 percent of primary students and 48 percent of secondary students are not meeting basic learning levels, with this crisis affecting boys more than girls.

Mr Daoud says:

“We have the opportunity to redress these issues – to ensure that all children not only attend school, but that they stay in school and complete a quality formal education. Initiatives like that of Pearson and the World Bank will make a tangible improvement to this situation across the globe, with greater access to and quality of education raising living standards for individuals and driving developing economies forward”.

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Preparatory Year Deanship at Um Al Qura University and Pearson Education to provide 13,000 students with e-learning technology

Students to benefit from state-of-the-art, digital resources

Mecca: The Preparatory Year Deanship at Um Al Qura University (PYP-UQU) has announced it is partnering with the world’s largest learning company, Pearson, to provide students with online learning and assessment technology.

Under the agreement, Pearson will provide the University with 13,000 licences for the digital products, MyMathLab, MyITLab and MasteringPhysics. This will provide PYD-UQU students with a user-friendly, single point of entry for all courses and ebooks.

The partnership will also see Pearson equip PYD-UQU with related software, services and hardcopy books. In order to gain maximum benefit from the new technology, staff at PYD-UQU will be provided with ongoing training from Pearson technical experts.

The agreement follows the emerging trend in Saudi Arabia of higher education institutions taking up learning technology at an institution-wide level. Since the launch of the Saudi Government’s National Plan for Information Technology, many universities in the Kingdom have been moving towards full digital adaption.

It is hoped the implementation of the new technology will drive learner results at PYD-UQU and give educators more time to concentrate on helping their students achieve. Mr Paul Harte, Country Manager of Pearson, Saudi Arabia, says:

“Every educator will tell you that each and every student learns in a different way. Adaptive learning technology, like the technology being implemented at PYD-UQU allows educators to easily teach to the specific learning needs of individual student. Using data and analytics, learning content is personalised to reinforce concepts that cater to individual strengths and weaknesses. Evidence shows that adaptive learning technology helps to create greater engagement, improved knowledge retention and support subject matter mastery. Pearson is delighted to be bringing these results to PYD-UQU and we look forward to seeing the impact of this new e-learning technology on the University’s students”.

Dr Ghassan Nouman, Dean PYD-UQU, says staff and students are looking forward to the rollout of the new programmes.

“PYD-UQU is keen to embrace the latest and most effective learning technologies available and this agreement will ensure we are on track to achieving this goal. Our lecturers are excited by the benefits this new Pearson technology will bring, helping them effectively engage their learners, and minimise time spent on administrative tasks. Similarly, feedback from learners has been positive, as the new programmes will facilitate their learning anywhere, anytime, and put them at the centre of their learning experience”.

The new technology will be available to PYD-UQU staff and students from the start of the next academic year, beginning in August 2015.

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Gulf Education Conference and Exhibition Examines Importance of Vocational Education

Education expert: Regional workforce development depends on improvements to vocational training.

Delegates at the Gulf Education Conference and Exhibition have heard continued development of the GCC’s workforce depends on improving the quality and accessibility of vocational education in the region.

The Conference, held in Dubai from the 18th – 19th March 2015, has brought together Education Ministers from across the region, along with global experts in education. The focus of this year’s event has been on vocational education and employer engagement with education providers – issues of great relevance to governments and educators throughout the region.

Sue Parker, Principal of Saudi Arabia’s Pearson TQ Colleges of Excellence in Buraidah, Mecca and Madinah, led a panel discussion at the Conference, calling for greater emphasis to be placed on vocational education in the development of the region’s education systems. Ms Parker said:

“For years now, employers have complained that new workforce entrants are ill-prepared for the demands of modern, globally orientated workforces. At the heart of the problem is a mismatch between supply and demand – that is, the type of workers education systems are producing, and the type of workers employers need. For too long, vocational education has been neglected in the region, as our young people follow education paths that fail to align with governments’ economic goals or boost productivity in the labour force. There is a clear need for a greater number of vocationally qualified graduates in the workforce, skilled in key industries, from oil and gas to building and construction. The lack of suitably qualified candidates available is in part to blame for the region’s higher than average rates of youth unemployment and underemployment, and is having a detrimental impact on the ability of Arab governments to achieve their long-term economic visions”.

Ms Parker says lessons learnt in other countries act as a useful guide in helping the GCC overcome educational and employment challenges.

“Singapore has one of the best vocational systems in the world, but this has not always been the case. Singapore invested heavily in linking educational programmes with employer needs, and importantly, on raising the status of vocational education amongst the population. Vocational education suffers from an unfortunate stigma, where it is seen as a lesser alternative to university. However, what we are seeing in the GCC is that those students who undertake recognized vocational qualifications often find meaningful work faster than those who have undertaken a university degree, and achieve quicker career progression and report greater job satisfaction”.

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Saudi Educators Excel in Master Trainer Programme

Pearson programme enhancing standard of math and science education in KSA 

Riyadh: The Chief Executive of Saudi Arabia’s Tatweer Company for Educational Services (T4Edu) has congratulated the latest group of Master Trainers to complete the first phase of the Saudi Math and Science Teacher Development Programme. The Master Trainer Programme is a key component of the broader Math and Science teacher development project being administered by T4Edu through the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Public Education Development Project (Tatweer), in collaboration with Pearson, the world’s largest learning company. Of the 407 participants that completed the most recent course of the Programme that concluded in December 2014, a 100 per cent pass-rate was achieved, with 94 percent of these receiving the highest available score of an A grade.

Dr Mohammad Al-Zaghibi, CEO of T4Edu, says the results have exceeded all expectations.

“I am delighted by what this group of educators has been able to achieve. The scores of those taking part in the Foundation Programme attest to the quality of the programme itself, the commitment of the certified trainers who delivered it and most of all, to the exceptional dedication of participants who have taken part. I have seen first-hand just how hard the participants worked to achieve these outcomes, investing their time and approaching the programme with enthusiasm and commitment. I look forward to seeing the positive difference these Master Trainers will be able to make as they go forward inspiring math and science educators across the country. I am confident that the scale of this project will lead to a tangible and measurable impact – at a national level – on the quality of math and science education throughout Saudi Arabia”.

Dr Mohammad advised that feedback he had received from within T4Edu’s Scientific Committee was that the materials were of a very high quality and standard and had contributed to this project being one of the best ever commissioned in Saudi Arabia. He also advised that the women taking part in the programme had achieved excellent results.

Feedback from the programme’s participants has been very positive. One participant who successfully completed the programme said:

“I enjoyed every single moment of this experience, even if some parts of the journey were quite hard. The success of the programme is due to the skills and the creativity of those who designed and implemented it”.

The Foundation level of the programme has now been completed with 474 Master Trainers having passed this stage. These Master Trainers are now able to progress onto intermediate and advanced level trainer courses, which will begin in April and May of this year.

Under the Master Trainer Programme, designed and implemented by Pearson, participants are trained as “Master Trainers”, provided with the pedagogical skills and knowledge necessary to go onto train over 100,000 mathematics and science educators in schools across Saudi Arabia. The aim of the Master Trainer Programme and associated Blended Professional Development Programme (also being developed by Pearson) is to improve the overall standard of mathematics and science education in the Kingdom and measurably enhance the performance of Saudi learners in these subjects as part of T4Edu’s STEM Initiative.

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