20 April 2015
PM Inaugurates Annual Conference and Exhibition on ICT for PWDs

Under the patronage of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab—accompanied by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Khaled Negm—inaugurated today the Annual Conference and Exhibition on Information and Communication Technology for PWDs organized by Smart Village on 20 – 21 April under the slogan “Inclusion, Empowerment and Participation”.

In the presence of a number of ministers, governors and the EU Ambassador to Cairo, the conference comes in line with the strategic plan of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to support people with disabilities (PWDs) and benefit from their innovative capabilities to serve the community using ICTs in a number of key projects in the fields of education, health and rehabilitation with a total cost of 50 million Egyptian pounds per annum.

The ICT minister has said that the conference, held for the fourth consecutive year, has witnessed local and international plaudit and a large Arabic turnout where the president of the national councils for disabilities affairs in Jordan and Sudan, the general manager of the communications regulatory authority in the United Arab Emirates took part. This is in addition to representatives of several Arab governments and civil society organizations in Bahrain, Tunisia, Kuwait, Syria, as well as representatives of a number of international organizations in ITU, Unesco and the United Nations.

This year, the conference will witness the launching of a number of significant initiatives on top of which is the launch of the Regional Center of ICT for PWDs through which standards, frameworks and policies of technological access will be offered to PWDs after conducting necessary research and studies. Offering its services for more than 55 million PWDs in the Arab world, the center is responsible for developing PWDs software and application and their arabicization, as well as building software programmers capability, the ICT minister has added.

Moreover, the center will offer specialized training grants; such as, the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) where 366 PWDs have applied to it until present, 129 of which have successfully passed and currently 237 are being trained.

The center also provides training and employment for a better job opportunity, a grant through which PWDs are trained for certain skills required by ICT companies to recruit them after completion of the training like telemarketing, data entry and administrative work. A number of 210 have been trained and 75% have been recruited in ICT companies. Currently, preparations are underway to enroll 250 persons in the grant.

The conference, this year, will also witness the launch of the first unified educational sign language dictionary, implemented by MCIT in cooperation with the ministry of education to be applied in the Deaf and hard of hearing schools.

The prime minister witnessed the signing of a  cooperation protocol between MCIT and the Professional Academy for Teachers that deal with PWDs students to enhance teachers’ performance and make them identity latest techniques for the benefit of the educational system.

The protocol is to meet the need of the initiative of 1000 PWDs schools, launched by MCIT in cooperation with the ministry of education to train 5400 of educators. The first phase of the initiative, including qualifying 245 PWDs schools and providing them with equipment and software to enhance the level of education, has been finalized. Preparation for the second phase, which includes supporting 500 schools and training 5000 educators, is currently underway.

The 2.5 million Egyptian pound one-year protocol promotes training for computer software, the unified sign language dictionary, bases of educational integration and personal skills, Negm has said.

Mahlab, during the opening session of the conference, has honored graduates of  ICDL for PWDs and training and employment for a better job opportunity grants. This is in addition to honoring Tamkeen competition for developing mobile software and applications for PWDs. He listened to their requests and designated concerned ministers and governors to work on quickly resolving their issues, knowing the challenge they have faced to overcome their disabilities.

On the sideline of the conference, an assistive technology exhibition is held where more than 20 companies and civil society organizations take part and showcase latest international techniques in the field of assistive technologies for PWDs. Among those companies are winners of Tamkeen competition that MCIT annually organize for SMEs in those fields.

MCIT collaborates with the ministry of education in implementing integrated schools project that is meant to support people with mild disabilities within public schools. The first phase, including around 300 schools nationwide, has commenced where 35 schools in the governorates of Fayoum, Aswan and Beni Suef have been supported. Currently, preparations are underway for the rest of the schools.

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