With more than 280 million native speakers, Arabic is one of the world’s most spoken languages, but the Arabic Wikipedia has lagged behind other language Wikipedias in terms of the amount of articles. The Arabic Wikipedia has only 205,000 articles — a tiny fraction in comparison to the English Wikipedia, which has 4.2 million articles. But the Arabic Wikipedia has been steadily growing over the last year, thanks in part to the efforts of college students in Egypt participating in the Wikipedia Education Program.
The Wikipedia Education Program kicked off in Egypt with a Cairo pilot at two universities, Ain Shams University and Cairo University. The chart at right shows the amount of content added to the Arabic Wikipedia by students participating in the program. In the first term of the pilot, students added about 1.85 million bytes of content to the Arabic Wikipedia — an incredible achievement celebrated at a conference in Cairo in July 2012. In the second term of the pilot, which wrapped up in February 2013, students contributed even more, with over 5.97 million bytes of content added to the Arabic Wikipedia. In addition, students who we’ve introduced to editing through the Wikipedia Education Program have contributed an additional 515,000 bytes, meaning the program has brought a total of more than 8.34 million bytes to the Arabic Wikipedia.
Volunteer program leaders organized a second celebration conference at Cairo University on February 27, 2013. Dr. Abeer Abd El-Hafez, a professor of Spanish from Cairo University, opened the conference and spoke about the spirit of the program and its importance in the lives of students and teachers in terms of skills development and new experiences. Faris El-Gwely, the education program consultant who runs the program in Egypt, shared results from the second term, and the best students and Ambassadors from the program received certificates recognizing their hard work. Students and professors also shared information about their experiences in the program. See more photos from the conference.
The second celebration conference was a catalyst for the program to grow. Two more universities in northern Egypt have joined the program, Damanhour University and Kafr El-Sheikh University, as has Saint Khadija High School for Girls in Cairo. The drive from these programs comes from past students and Wikipedia Ambassadors who want to volunteer their time to further the spread of the Wikipedia Education Program in Egypt:
- Walaa Abd El-Moneim, leader of the Faculty of Arts, Cairo University
- Doaa Saif El-Din, leader of the Faculty of Al-Alsun (Languages), Ain Shams University
- Helana Raafat and Mina Saber, leaders of the Faculty of Arts, Ain Shams University
- Samir El-Sharabaty, commander of the Faculty of Education, Damanhour University
Egypt is not the only Arab World country to see growth in the Wikipedia Education Program. In the term that’s just beginning, universities in Algeria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have joined the program. All told, more than 45 classes will be editing the Arabic Wikipedia as part of their coursework this term.
In Jordan, Dr. Nidal Yousef of Isra University is one of five university professors teaching Wikipedia classes this term through the program. The Jordanian Teachers Association is also leading a program where high school students in every governorate in Jordan will be editing Wikipedia as part of their schoolwork, assisted by volunteer Wikipedia Ambassadors. Dr. Abd El-Haq Fareh of Algeria is also incorporating Wikipedia editing into his free software class this term. And Dr. Mohammed Alghbban and Dr. Sami Bin Slimah of King Saud University are leading a Wikipedia translation program in Saudi Arabia in their school’s languages department.
We look forward to seeing the Arabic Wikipedia continue to grow, thanks to these dedicated faculty leaders and students.
Faris El-Gwely, Education Program Consultant, Arab World
LiAnna Davis, Wikipedia Education Program Communications Manager