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Education minister lauds support of leadership on anniversary of transition to remote learning
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 08 - 03 - 2021

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia's Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh praised the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince for providing all the required support to the education sector and ensuring the continuation of distance learning through multiple platforms since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the Kingdom.
"This comes as no surprise as the leadership has always been keen for the safety of students and education staff in all of the education sectors including the public, higher education, and technical training sectors, especially during the coronavirus pandemic," the minister said.
Speaking on the first anniversary of the suspension of in-person learning in educational institutions and the transition to distance learning, Dr. Al-Sheikh noted: "This year represents an unprecedented historical stage in the education process in the world and Saudi Arabia. Despite the challenges, the Kingdom was able to provide a unique Saudi model in distance learning that adds to the nation's successes in coping with the pandemic at all levels."
He also pointed out that this year the educational system has demonstrated its ability to rapidly transform from actual in-person and on-campus learning to distance learning within ten hours after the suspension of in-person education and to continue the educational process without interruption for one day.
This decision has strengthened the community partnership to spread the culture of distance education in society. In addition, there has been continuing efforts to ensure the quality of online and distance learning through the availability of multiple educational options, the flexibility of the tools used, training programs, supervision, and follow-up processes, provision of regulations and legislation in accordance with the best international practices, empowerment tools for teachers, and equal opportunities for everyone to showcase their creativity and interact with their students in virtual classrooms, the minister stressed.
Dr. Al-Sheikh added that the Ministry has created several educational alternatives to ensure the continuation of the educational process remotely through the Madrasati platform, 23 educational channels, iEN channels on YouTube, and virtual kindergarten applications. He also praised the great efforts provided by universities and Technical and Vocational Training Corporation in providing educational options for its employees, and their collaborative roles in ensuring the continuation of the educational process.
He has asserted that the figures recorded by distance education during the year of the pandemic show the size of the achievement and the success that has been achieved with the testimony of six international organizations and bodies that conducted two studies comparing distance education Saudi Arabia with 193 countries around the world. The results of the two studies showed the Kingdom's progress in 13 indicators out of 16, and the strengths of the Saudi experience through the speed of response, the diversity of options, and the continuous improvement.
Minister Al-Sheikh indicated that the numbers of the Madrasati platform from the beginning of the school year until today show the success that has been achieved in the distance education process in the Kingdom despite the pandemic conditions.
The number of visits to the Madrasati link since its launch has crossed more than 588 million visits and the number of students registered on the platform has reached more than 5 million students in government and private education, he pointed out.
He proudly stated that the Madrasati platform is a project for the nation, and everyone has partners, and it is a strategic choice for the future, and we are proud of the national competencies that have been achieved in record time and that we will continue to work on developing their tools and documenting them as a success story for the country.
Dr. Al-Sheikh stated that Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that offers 23 free educational channels in accordance with the curricula and academic plans, indicating that iEN educational channels achieved more than 230 million views within a year, placing the Kingdom in the top rank among Arab countries for the most-watching country to educational channels, with a total of 24 million watch hours, 186,000 satellite broadcasting hours, and more than 23,000 filming hours.
The number of subscribers in the YouTube Channels reached 1.2 million, as the first Arab country in this aspect, with a total of 27,000 classes published on satellite channels and YouTube, pointing out that the Kingdom was unique among the Arab countries in covering all curricula of special education and continuing education categories, by allocating 3 channels for special education and a channel for continuing education, in addition to translating all public education curricula for all academic levels into sign language for hearing disabilities students.
Dr. Al Al-Sheikh noted that the number of registered students in the virtual kindergarten application is more than 300,000 children and more than 283,000 parents.
The Minister of Education thanked and expressed his appreciation of the education staff, including teachers, administrators, school leaders, supervisors, teaching staff, and trainers, for their dedicated patriotic efforts to successfully continue the distance learning process.
He also thanked the families and parents for their cooperation and their standing with their children in overcoming the circumstances of the pandemic and completing an important step in their educational path.
Dr. Al-Sheikh also praised the cooperation between the society's institutions in achieving the expectations of the leadership by working together in overcoming the challenges of the pandemic at all levels.

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