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Photo for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: Pixabay

Cairo: The COVID-19 pandemic has driven around 2,400 private kindergartens and schools out of business in Saudi Arabia over the past two years, an education official has disclosed.

Some 1,800 kindergartens have stopped operations while 600 private schools have been completely pushed out of business due to the pandemic, said Fahd Hamad bin Yameen, the deputy head of the Education Committee at the Mecca Chamber of Commerce and a member of the National Committee for Education.

Citing an independent study, he added in media remarks that the numbers of students, attending those institutions, have dropped by 500,000.

“The private education is one of the best economic sectors that effectively contribute to the national economy in terms of several indicators, including helping fulfil objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030,” he said, referring to an ambitious Saudi development scheme to diversify the kingdom’s oil-reliant economy.

The official called for creating an independent agency to be tasked with developing the private education and removing obstacles to its growth.

In early 2020, Saudi Arabia had suspended in-person classes and switched to distance-learning as part of stringent measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

The new academic year started in Saudi Arabia in late August with a revival of in-person attendance for intermediate and secondary school students.

Activities that involve personal contacts were excluded as a preventive measure.

Kindergarten and primary pupils have since continued to study remotely through government platforms.

Authorities said this week that in-person classes will resume in the public, private and foreign primary schools and kindergartens across Saudi Arabia after nearly two years of suspension due to the COVID-19.

The kingdom's ministries of education and health said that the decision is due to success of return of intermediate and secondary school students to class attendance and the kingdom's efforts to reach high herd immunity.