The kingdom implemented the online education in early March due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Saudi Arabia may extend the implementation of distance learning for the 2020-2021 school year if the threat of the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Ministry of Education has conducted teacher competency tests to examine their ability to implement the new learning regulations remotely in September. The ministry said that it may continue the implementation of distance learning in the academic year if the COVID-19 virus continues.

The kingdom implemented the online education in early March due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic as a precautionary measure to contain its spread. Six million Saudi students in general education and about 1.6 million university students have benefited from distance learning through various technical platforms and programs.

Education Minister Dr. Hamad Mohammed Al Sheikh said the experience gained in providing distance learning will help address the problem of school dropouts in the kingdom.

He said the kingdom started providing distance education years ago, but the online education systems were modernised recently to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The distance learning programme has so far 20 live broadcast channels from the national education portal (iEN) and educational content is now available through different social media platforms for various Saudi universities.

“These systems will continue to work even after the crisis to address the problems of school dropouts,” Al Sheikh said during a virtual conference for the ministers of education in the Islamic world held by the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ICESCO), last week.

He also discussed with the heads of Saudi universities in the Kingdom setting the university acceptance requirements for the coming academic year in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi Arabia suspended all schools, universities and educational institutions starting from March 9 until further notice and directed all educational institutions to implement distance learning through online platforms.

In early May, the ministry said at least 1.4 million university students across the kingdom were able to take over 223,000 exams remotely.

The ministry also announced mid-April that it would advance all students, from kindergarten to high school, to the next grade and take the first semester’s results as the results for the second semester.