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Unesco Praises Saudi Arabia’s Successful Pivot to Distance Learning During Covid-19

/ 27 Jul 2022

Unesco Praises Saudi Arabia’s Successful Pivot to Distance Learning During Covid-19

A recent Unesco report praises Saudi Arabia’s educational response to the coronavirus pandemic as a model that should be emulated by other countries. It particularly praised the country’s “Madrasati” (“My School”) distance learning programme and said the kingdom should continue developing its various learning platforms to cover schools of all levels, including kindergarten.

The Saudi Ministry of Education said the Unesco report documented the kingdom’s quick implementation of distance education during the coronavirus pandemic and praised “the success of its educational policies and their effectiveness in reducing the impact of the pandemic on education and the educational gap, as well as ensuring the quality of distance learning and … the comprehensiveness and fairness of the solution for all female and male students.”

The ministry said it had received unlimited support and attention as part of the kingdom’s “Vision 2030” objectives and human capacity development programmes.

Unesco praised “the success of (Saudi Arabia’s) educational policies and their effectiveness in reducing the impact of the pandemic on education and the educational gap, as well as ensuring the quality of distance learning and … the comprehensiveness and fairness of the solution for all female and male students.”

From a statement by the Saudi Ministry of Education  

It referred to a previous Unesco report, titled “National Distance Learning Programmes in Response to the Covid-19 Education Disruption: Case Study of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, which outlined urgent measures taken by Saudi Arabia in March 2020 to put distance learning programmes in place and ensure that all students had access.

The report not only lauded the Ministry of Education’s distance learning solutions for six million male and female students at public schools and universities, but also the fact that teachers and lecturers had already been trained in digital skills, and that content and educational platforms were ready.

The transition to distance learning was smooth, effective and highly efficient, it said.

Infrastructure Was in Place

Unesco attributed the success of distance learning in Saudi Arabia to the readiness of its infrastructure before the pandemic, the provision of large and diverse educational content linked to the curriculum, and the student-teacher information system that helps teachers follow up on students’ progress.”

Saudi authorities said the Madrasati platform, was a logical and intuitive learning management system that uses images and simplified language to encourage engagement with online learning. Another platform, called “Back to School”, provides educational guides and tools to promote effective online learning experiences.

The Unesco report said the Saudi Ministry of Education had also increased teachers’ and lecturers’ participation and provided guidance to parents via satellite television channels and the Back to School platform on how to improve their children’s learning from home. It also developed data protection and privacy protocols, along with solutions for assessments and tests.

The impact of school closures “is particularly severe for the most vulnerable and marginalized boys and girls and their families. The resulting disruptions exacerbate already existing disparities within the education system but also in other aspects of their lives.”

From a Unesco fact sheet on the adverse consequences of school closures  

It highlighted, however, that the most important lessons from the kingdom’s response to the pandemic was the readiness of students, teachers, and the technical infrastructure.

The report said it was important for the Saudi Ministry of Education to adopt a blended learning model, combining face-to-face teaching and distance education, after the pandemic, especially for schools in remote areas. The Ministry replied that it was working on  a distance learning plan and was analysing the future  of e-learning and  education.

Negative Effects of School Closures

Unesco has previously issued statements warning of the adverse consequences of school closures during the pandemic.

School closures, even if temporary, are disruptive to local communities, it said in a fact sheet published online. Their impact “is particularly severe for the most vulnerable and marginalized boys and girls and their families. The resulting disruptions exacerbate already existing disparities within the education system but also in other aspects of their lives.”

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Unesco said some families were able to respond to the challenges of home education, but parents with low incomes and limited education had the most difficulties. Even child nutrition is compromised for poor families who rely on free or discounted meals provided at schools.

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Copyright © 2018 Al-Fanar Mediaحقوق © 2018 الفنار للإعلام