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Abu Dhabi: E-learning will continue into the next academic year if the COVID-19 crisis goes on, a senior official has said.

Fawzia Gharib, assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Education for the school operations sector, told a Ramadan virtual majlis organised by the Khalifa Education Award on Friday, that e-learning could continue as part of three scenarios devised by the Ministry of Education.

In the session entitled ‘Distance Education, Vision and Future Trends,’ the first scenario is the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, where e-learning will remain 100 per cent and smart education will be the focus of education across the entire country. The second scenario is a transitional phase after the virus has dissipated and the country has recovered and in a gradual manner, direct education returns at a rate ranging between 30-50 per cent.

The official added that the third scenario is a development plan sought in the event that life returns to normal. This includes the incorporation of both direct and distance learning, but this will be done in proportion of 70 per cent direct education and 30 per cent e-learning, so that technological development and the transition to digital education can be maintained.

Gharib pointed out that each plan has a certain timeframe, and if the coronavirus continues, the ministry will complete the implementation of distance e-learning for the next academic year, starting in September.

“But if it dissipates, the education will be subject to the transitional stage scenario, which may run for six months from the next academic year,” she said.

With regard to the future plan, she said we will work to draw it about a year after the return to normal life.

She explained that the digital transformation in distance education will affect the re-engineering of the Ministry of Education’s strategy, in terms of school buildings and their need, and the implementation of direct education and the extent of the students’ need to sit in classrooms five days a week, school hours and the extent of the students’ need to study daily from 7am to 2pm.

She pointed out that the study plan, the school day and the full study trip must be re-engineered, according to what the country hopes and its educational system aspires to, after benefiting from the positive aspects that the school stage went through during the COVID-19 crisis, and how to rationalise spending on education and reduce the cost of the student’s education.

She emphasised that the UAE can be a regional hub for distance e-learning, especially since there are many factors that support this, whether at the political, economic, technological or social levels and said we are working to link this trend in the country and the UAE’s 2021 plan, and the sustainable development goals 2030 for education.