Europe aims for top at Wem

May 31, 2002

Europeans were hustling at the World Education Market in Lisbon last week hoping to capture a large slice of the emerging e-learning business.

They were on home ground for the first time since Wem, a trade show with intellectual aspirations, was launched by the Paris-based Reed-Midem organisation in Vancouver, Canada, two years ago. Then, North Americans dominated at the four-day conference, but their presence in Lisbon was muted among 1,900 participants and 400 organisations from 82 countries.

As well as the European presence, there were contingents from developing countries, including Albania, Bangladesh, Morocco, Romania and Syria. The Nigerians sent 100 delegates and created a colourful national pavilion in the hope of attracting $11.5 billion (£7.9 billion) of inward education investment. Education minister Alhaji Bello Usman said profits for investors could run to $10.3 billion a year.

Nikolaus van der Pas, director-general for education and culture at the European Commission, opened the event with the claim that Europe aimed to be the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. Public-private partnerships were an essential ingredient to success, he said.

Hans Ulrich Maerki, IBM's chairman for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the drivers in the e-learning technology market were globalisation, cross-border movement of people, the speed of change, rising educational expectations and more affordable and flexible learning systems.

But when he asked the audience of education managers, information technologists and government officials what the main block to e-learning was, 58.8 per cent pointed to institutional culture over skills level and hardware.

Xavier Roy, chief executive of event organisers Reed Midem, said Wem was part of an emerging marketplace aimed at forming a community of education pioneers among government decision-makers, industry and technology leaders.

The Wem format combined commerce with keynote speeches and brainstorming sessions on more cerebral themes.

Statistics on international education spending were striking. The US, with 5 million people, spends $450 billion on education and 42 per cent of its 18 to 22-year-olds have access to higher education. China with 1.25 billion people spends $21 billion and only 3 per cent of the equivalent age group have access to higher education.

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.