In 2011, the Ministry of Information and Communications in Qatar enlisted Mala Bawer’s (MBA ’79) help to develop a multimedia digital learning program for the country. A seasoned digital education expert, Bawer knew she was up for the challenge. After Darden, she worked for several media companies devoted to initial Internet exploration, where she anticipated the future need for digital literacy. “Schools needed to be prepared, and they were not. That was very clear to me,” she said. As a result, Bawer co-founded CyberSmart! Education to teach students 21st century skills and prepare them for today’s digital society. “The whole idea was to instill young students with the sense of excitement about the Internet and to empower them to use the technology effectively and responsibly,” explained Bawer. CyberSmart! was the first company to create a digital literary curriculum program and deliver it at no cost to millions of students in grades K-12 across the United States. To fulfill the ministry’s request, Bawer worked with local teachers and students to create a multimedia program that reflected Qatar’s culture and practices. The final product, as Bawer described it, “empowers young people from a country that controls much of the world’s wealth to use the Internet in positive ways in today’s globalized world,” said Bawer. “The program is about how to be considerate, kind and responsible online.” Bawer arrived at Darden in 1977, after backpacking through Europe for almost two years on $5 a day. When she left Darden, she used her business savvy to build a successful international organization. “This project was my opportunity to make an impact,” said Bawer. “I really hope the Internet will bring us all closer together.”
Qatar hopes to distribute the digital learning program Bawer developed throughout the rest of the North Africa and the Middle East region.
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