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Countries in Near East and North Africa Finalize Regional Consortium

The Seventh Near East and North Africa Regional Meeting took place 22-23 February 2008 at the Supreme Education Council, in Doha, Qatar, following a week-long Master Training event (15-21 February 2008). Participating in this important meeting of Country Coordinators were representatives from seven countries in the Near East and North Africa: Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The regional meeting began with a presentation provided by Dr. Teresa Kennedy, Deputy Director of the GLOBE Program, emphasizing current initiatives and priorities of the GLOBE Program Office focused on promoting collaborative student research and describing the important roles that consortiums can play in regard to promoting sustainable implementation models led and carried out by their regions. Importance was placed on forming internal collaborations within the consortium and to work together to secure a sustainable funding base from regional government, business and industry sources. Keynote Speaker Dr. Sedeq Al-Alawi, University of Bahrain, discussed scientist involvement in GLOBE and gave a presentation on "Green Chemistry" –the environmentally sound use of household chemicals, as an example of how scientists can work with GLOBE students and increase the relevance of their academic studies in their everyday lives.

The regional meeting provided a forum for the representatives from each country to share implementation strategies, to learn about commonalities and differences, and to collaborate on future activities and strategies promoting collaborative student research, regional leadership and programmatic sustainability. A strong emphasis was placed on developing regional research projects, searching for funding opportunities, and on the importance of completing the online survey found on the GLOBE Web site in order to provide feedback to the GLOBE Program Office as well as to record regional implementation activities for their own purposes.

Other topics covered were the regional Alumni Organization and Parent Council as well as regional office. A call for nominations for the next Near East and North Africa GLOBE Alumni representative was announced since the three-year term of the current representative, Ms. Sheikha Bu Ali, will come to an end in December 2008. Dr. Sedeq Al-Alawi, University of Bahrain, volunteered to serve as the region's first GLOBE Parent Council Coordinator (see for more information on this initiative). While the Near East and North Africa Consortium Office is located in Bahrain, cost-sharing to maintain the office serving the region was discussed.

Ms. Zakeya Ali, Regional Coordinator of the Near East and North Africa Consortium and GLOBE International Advisory Committee (GIAC) Regional Representative, led the discussion examining the draft Consortium document, which was prepared and signed by five countries in 2005. It was decided to rename the region "Near East and North Africa" to more accurately reflect the geography of the consortium members. The Near East and North Africa Region officially includes The Kingdom of Bahrain, Arab Republic of Egypt, Kingdom of Jordan, State of Kuwait, Republic of Lebanon, Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Kingdom of Morocco, State of Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates. On February 23, 2008, Bahrain, Lebanon, Morocco, State of Qatar, and Saudi Arabia signed the Consortium document. The Country Coordinators for Egypt and Jordan were unable to attend the meeting, but signed the document a few days later.

The main objectives of the Consortium are to promote and strengthen regional and international relations among teachers and students in the GLOBE program by establishing an active framework that enables consortium members to co-develop funding strategies, projects and student collaborations. Importantly, the Consortium will work to encourage integration of the GLOBE Program into the national curriculum of each country in the region, and will use the GLOBE Program Survey as a common tool to document national and regional implementation of GLOBE on an annual basis.

The newly formed Consortium establishes a General Assembly, an Executive Committee, a Board of Trustees and Advisory Committees. The Executive Committee includes a Chair, Deputy Chair, GLOBE International Advisory Committee Representative, General Secretary, Treasurer, and requested the GLOBE Program Office Deputy Director of International Partnerships to provide input and advice to the Committee. The members of the Executive Committee will serve three-year terms. The consortium's by-laws are still in development.

14 April 2008