The President of Harvard University once said, “If you think education is expensive – try ignorance.” Any career necessitates a lifetime commitment to what you do, and that means a commitment to a lifetime of learning. This is perhaps the reason for the explosive growth of the e-learning industry around the world. According to a report by GSV Advisors from Silicon Valley, the global eLearning market is estimated to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23% over the next three years, at which time its value will exceed $255bn by 2017.
Access to education has never been more convenient, and the beauty of it is that learning is now an experience that can truly be shared with people across the world. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from-or what age you are-if there’s something you would like to learn about, you can do so anytime you like.
As the eLearning market continues to grow from strength to strength, so too does another young industry in the region–direct selling. The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) which represents direct selling associations from more than 60 countries, reports that the market size of the industry globally grew 5% last year to hit $154bn in sales. Globally, approximately 90 million people are involved in the direct selling business.Therefore it won’t come as any great surprise that both these sectors are helping each other grow.
QNet, the prominent Asian direct selling company, is seeing growing demand for its online education programs offered under the brand Swiss eLearning, across a wide range of demographics in the MENA region. The courses designed by the Swiss Management Centre (SMC) University, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and ranked No.3 in Europe for online education by Newsweek magazine, range from academic programs such as the Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration and the Accredited Online MBA program to non-academic niche courses in e-Commerce, Entrepreneurship, Presentation and Communication Skills, Career Design, Marketing and The Art of Management.
“E-learning is becoming increasingly popular across the region,” said Haldun Arin QNet’s Chief Operating Officer. “I recently read a report that the industry has experienced 8.2% annual growth and has generated approximately $443m in 2013 in the Middle East. Our e-learning courses are the second most popular purchase in the MENA region. In Egypt alone around 4000 persons subscribed to our education products,” Arin added.
The framework of the Swiss eLearning Programs are based on the concept of ‘continuing education’; a post-secondary education programme that is set up to provide further enrichment, whether professionally or personally.
“Our programs focus on relevancy, blending theoretical knowledge with applied practice, and a feedback loop to reinforce the continued effectiveness of the curriculum. The courses are designed to enhance business and communication skills, two important criteria for the direct selling professional.”, said Arin.
QNet recognizes that a strictly structured, tightly framed environment like that of a traditional university or classroom setting is not the most suitable for the dynamic and busy schedules of direct selling professionals.
“As a result of the fast-paced lifestyle, there is little time left to fit in the things we would like to do, especially with regards to education.” said Arin. “That is why we partnered with SMC University to launch the eLearning programsso that our distributors can gain two-fold benefits from this. Firstly, they gain knowledge and secondly by promoting the courses to others, they create an income stream for themselves,” Arin added.
Studies have also indicated that general offline enrollment ratios for females in the Middle East and Egypt are generally lower than males. In Egypt there is as much as 20% lower female enrollment than males with higher dropout rates due to social and traditional barriers. One striking benefit of online education options for women in the Middle East is the idea that e-learning programs can sidestep many social barriers. With increasing Internet penetration in the MENA region reaching 43% in Egypt, e-learning is becoming very popular with women who want the flexibility to learn from home.
“At QNet, we were pleasantly surprised to find a large number of female students subscribing for our e-learning courses from the region.” Added Arin.
eLearning pioneers expect that the new age of education will allow learning to truly ‘blend with our everyday activities’. The World Economic Forum has even listed eLearning as one of the top technology trends for 2014.