In the Arab world, the disruptions caused by Covid-19 have posed new challenges for the future of education and added new hurdles to the prospects of youth in the search for jobs or in starting their own companies. Students and entrepreneurs, especially those living and working in conflict zones, are affected the most; their academic and professional future is at risk.
Against this backdrop, Al-Fanar Media and SPARK, a Netherlands-based nonprofit that supports higher education and job creation efforts in fragile states, organized an online conference that invited leaders in online education and job creation to discuss a momentous question:
“How can we best support vulnerable but ambitious students and entrepreneurs during and after the Covid-19 crisis?”
The conference, titled “Rebuilding Futures: Education and Jobs for Youth During Crisis,” was held on four days over two weeks in May. It brought together a variety of stakeholders, including university leaders, education scholars, online-learning experts, education advocacy groups, entrepreneurs, and students. With some 450 people listening in online, the speakers discussed the struggles, lessons learned, and opportunities to help the region shape the future of online education and job creation.
Below are descriptions of each of the sessions and links to videos where readers can listen to the sessions in full.
Week 1: Moving to Online Education
The conference’s first week focused on Arab educational institutions’ dash to shift their classes online after Covid-19 closed their campuses, and the worries that raised about the quality of the education provided and the effects on students’ academic year, mental health, and job future. It also focused on how the crisis might serve as a catalyst for enhancing online education and taking advantage of the interactivity and tracking of student learning that are possible in the digital space.
Wednesday, May 13
Keynote: The Catalysis of Crises and the Role of Distance Learning in Higher Education
Speaker: Fadlo Khuri, president of the American University of Beirut
Fadlo Khuri opened the conference with a discussion of how his university strove to ensure the continuity of its academic mission during the crisis, touching on topics like: How is distance learning serving this mission? and How do universities maintain their relevance in teaching, research, and service in this environment?