Saudi schools to go digital by 2020

Ambitious plan to drop print books seeks to improve learning interaction

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Manama: Saudi Arabia is planning to drop all print books from schools and replace them with digital books by 2020.

Education Minister Ahmad Al Eissa said that the state has allocated 1.6 billion Saudi Riyals to implement the project within the next four years.

The minister told reporters at a press conference that Phase One of the plan would be launched at the beginning of the new academic year and would cover 150 schools while Phase Two would include 1,500 schools. The plan would later be extended to all schools in the kingdom.

The ministry has already signed agreements with several companies regarding the project, he added.

“We have initiatives that aim to achieve a genuine amelioration of the education sector,” the minister said, quoted by Saudi daily Okaz on Thursday. “We want the teacher to change his role from instructor to mentor and we want the student to transform his role from a passive recipient to an active participant.”

Education technology will empower the teachers to interact with his or her students both inside the classroom and outside it, he added.

“The project will provide richly-rewarding technology-based services, especially following the proper training of male and female teachers, improving the infrastructure in schools, and boosting Internet facilities,” the minister said.

Al Eissa added that the ministry had commissioned a study to assess the possibility of setting up a factory to make tablets in cooperation with a specialised company in order to provide products at competitive prices.

“We have not decided yet whether the tablets would be made available for the students free of charge or for a minimal fee. It will all depend on our capabilities.”

Saudi Arabia has around 30,000 schools attended by more than five million students.

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