Dean Shawki: Egyptian Knowledge Bank to Widen Research, Education Opportunities

Dean Shawki is signing agreements with publishers today to create the Egyptian Knowledge Bank
Dean Shawki is signing agreements with publishers today to create the Egyptian Knowledge Bank

Tarek Shawki, dean of the School of Sciences and Engineering, signed agreements with publishers from around the world to establish the “Egyptian Knowledge Bank”, a nationwide project aimed at providing all Egyptian citizens with access to quality research and education materials. The agreements grant anyone with an Egyptian IP address free access to publications, journals, audio/video/image libraries, software and books from around the world.

“Our goal is to provide all Egyptians with access to world-class publications, like Nature and Encyclopedia Britannica,” explained Shawki, who is head of Egypt’s Presidential Specialized Council for Education and Scientific Research tasked with organizing the project, as well as secretary-general of all specialized councils affiliated to the Egyptian presidency. “By providing these materials free of charge, the knowledge bank ensures that all Egyptians, no matter what their economic circumstances, will have the tools they need to excel in their education and research.”

Initiatives like the Egyptian Knowledge Bank are key to the country’s success, explained Shawki. “Strengthening education and research is crucial to our country’s future and an important step towards building an Egyptian learning society,” he affirmed. “By supporting these efforts, the launch of the knowledge bank is considered a step in the right direction for all of us in Egypt.”

The signing of the agreements marks the unofficial launch of the Egyptian Knowledge Bank, leading up to a formal launch of the program by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Saturday, November 14. The launch of the public portal is projected for January 8, 2016, Shawki noted. “The publishers are equally as invested in the success of the program, as they too understand the importance of shared knowledge in our global community,” he said. “We’re all dedicated to providing the Egyptian people with new opportunities to learn and explore.”

Russell Stephens, director of collections at the AUC Library, agreed, explaining that the knowledge bank offers members of the AUC community, like the AUC Library, the opportunity to help lead the country in these initiatives, “Our Continuing Resources Department, which manages 136 databases comprising more than 82,000 unique journal titles, and which is based upon uninterrupted service levels and appropriate relevancy requirements, may serve as a best practice model for enhancing access to research and learning on a national level."

Stephens underscored the University’s commitment to the program and its mission, “We at AUC Libraries look forward to working with Dean Shawki on this exciting initiative, specifically regarding the development of a platform that will provide electronic resources for the entire country.”