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AGFE awards 86 scholarships for online Master's degrees at ASU
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 29 - 07 - 2020

Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE) awards 86 underprivileged youths from the Arab region with full scholarships at Arizona State University (ASU) to pursue their Master's degrees as part of the Al Ghurair Open Learning Scholars Program (OLSP).
The 86 students have been selected from a large group of 353 applications, and they represent 13 nationalities from the Arab region including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen. One-third of these ambitious young Arabs are first generation university students, meaning that they will be the first in their families to pursue their higher education.
Additionally, most of these students are young professionals who are pursuing their Master's degrees alongside their full-time jobs and are mainly specializing in the fields of Healthcare and Engineering.
Marwa Abdo, an AGFE scholar living and working in the United Arab Emirates, has been awarded the scholarship to pursue her Master's in Health Informatics at a critical time. As the country addresses the global pandemic, this scholarship gives students like Marwa the opportunity to upskill in needed specializations without leaving the UAE.
Marwa explains: "Hopefully, upon finishing my master's degree in Health Informatics, with my genuine desire of making all sorts of patients' journey less painful and my communication and leadership skills, I can make a positive-lasting impact here in the UAE and in our Arab world."
AGFE empowers Emirati & Arab youth to thrive and contribute to the sustainable development of the region, through innovative education solutions and authentic partnerships.
One key longstanding partnership has been with educational partner Arizona State University (ASU), which enables access to high quality online Master's degrees at a global scale through ASU Online.
After providing scholarships for online programs with ASU for the past 3 years, the Foundation has seen a sharp increase of almost 60% in applications received for the OLS program compared to last year, primarily because the region continues to turn to online learning as a response to COVID-19 and as perceptions of online education begin to shift among students everywhere.
Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar, chief executive officer of AGFE said: "Nowadays, we are seeing a growing interest in online learning and a shift in perspective particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey we conducted with our scholars after the start of the pandemic found that over half of these inspiring young people are open to pursuing online learning in the future.
"The experience of emergency remote teaching has given them a reason to hope for better when online education is planned. The reality is that these resilient Arab youth are not going to put their educational goals on hold throughout this uncertain period — they want to learn!"
The OLSP offers full online Master's scholarships at ASU for a range of fields such as engineering, technology, health, education, sustainability and other programs relevant to Arab youth in the region. ASU, which has been ranked as the most innovative university in the United States by US News and World Report consecutively for the past five years, is a leader in online learning.
The OLSP offers a full scholarship to selected youth, including all tuition and fees until they complete their Master's degree. In addition, AGFE and ASU also offer scholars various skill-building, professional opportunities to better equip them for the world of work, providing them with a supportive community and tailored support throughout their educational journey with a personal enrolment coach, success coach, and academic advisor.
Farid Taqatqa, a recent graduate from ASU, chose a specialization that allows him to contribute to an in-demand field in the UAE, saying: "The major I have chosen, Quality Statistics and Reliability, is unique and is not taught in the MENA region. It is based on modern techniques and tools to improve engineering process and products and can be applied to cutting-edge industries and services here in the UAE and beyond.
"The AGFE scholarship program is considered a torch of hope for those who are unable to fulfill their dreams. It is a great initiative to plant the ideas of giving in our youths to enhance our current region's situation."
Over the past four years, AGFE has been working to support and promote high-quality online education programs in the UAE and across the Arab world. The Foundation has offered over 800 scholarships and is helping regional universities improve their capacity to offer educational courses and programs online.
These efforts directly address the disparity in access to university education in the Arab world to help meet the Sustainable Development Goal 4 targets adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015. The Foundation is dedicated to transforming lives through education as it believes that education is the main driver of development. — SG


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