(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).
We often don’t pay attention to the fact that life changes and fail to notice that nothing is constant except for ourselves. Even we ourselves are changing, whether we notice it or not. We venture out eager for knowledge, and become experts without knowing it, for attempting tasks alone is sufficient to form an opinion, especially these days.
Syria’s war started without the permission of those living in Syria. Our first fear was change: We waited for the return of the known while taking steps towards the unknown, until we lost hope once and for all. We lost our education, and our knowledge declined compared to peers in neighboring countries.
Then many years later came the novel coronavirus crisis, which has again obstructed our education. The only difference, however, is that the virus struck the entire world and paralyzed many other sectors in addition to education. Entire cities were locked down and production of many goods was no longer as we knew it. Industry, trade, tourism and cargo transport all stopped, and we witnessed unparalleled change at all levels. But the rapid move to confront it was an opportunity to make major transformations, especially the adoption of online education as an alternative solution to ensure the continued education of millions of students in the Arab region and around the world.
Of course, accepting change is not easy and sometimes not possible, and cannot be achieved quickly.
Although distance learning provided an educational opportunity for all students, if they had Internet access and the right equipment, the voices of those who rejected it and underestimated its efficiency were loud. Personally, I can say that if distance education had been available to me ten years ago, I wouldn’t have had to leave my country after waiting for five years in search of an opportunity to complete my studies, and another five years to start my career. Now these opportunities have become available to everyone, in an easy and simple way, all you have to do is to determine what you are looking for, using Google or several other specialized platforms, to find many options provided by the world’s best and finest universities. (See a related resource, Al-Fanar Media’s Guide to Online Learning Platforms.)
Some of the many benefits of distance education are that you do not have to take a long journey to get admitted, bear the costs of travel and accommodation, get to know an entirely new community, acclimatize to a new culture, commit to a specific place, and other challenges that I faced when I left Aleppo to finish my education.