COVID-19 will Not Affect Exams or Start of New School Year
QNA/Doha H.E. the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Dr. Ibrahim bin Salih Al Nuaimi announced that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will not affect exams or start of the new school year, noting that the virus has not affected the progress of the educational process. H.E. Al Nuaimi stated that the ministry has observed that the distance learning process is proceeding well and in accordance with the plans drawn up for it, indicating that there is a great response from students and their guardians. In this regard, His Excellency said that statistics indicate that the total number of illustrated lessons exceeded twenty three thousand five hundred ( 23,500) of which about two thousand five hundred (2,500) are for general education, approximately one thousand two hundred (1,200) for specialized schools, and about twenty thousand (20,000) for special education and integration schools. H.E. Dr. Al Nuaimi said that the Ministry of Education and Higher Education’s preparations for secondary school exams (for students of day school and adult education) for the 2019-2020 academic year, which 11,476 students will perform, are proceeding well. The exams will start on the first of June and will continue for two weeks, he added. Health and Safety Conditions during Exams H.E. Dr. Al Nuaimi noted that the Ministry will work in coordination with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and other entities in the country to ensure that the exams are conducted in safe conditions, adding that the Student Evaluation Department carried out a number of procedures to ensure this. He explained that classrooms will have a maximum of 8 students and large gym halls will have a maximum of 40 students, with a distance of up to four (4) meters between students. Furthermore, masks, gloves, disinfection kits and temperature checking devices will be provided in all exam rooms, as well as in the marking and control centres. H.E. Dr. Al Nuaimi revealed that a health and safety manual has been prepared for this purpose in addition to preparing an awareness plan for all groups involved in holding the exams. H.E. Dr. Al Nuaimi also revealed that the marking and control room have been moved to two larger buildings, to ensure that there is no overcrowding during the marking process. Need for Distance Learning during Pandemic H.E. Dr. Al Nuaimi pointed out that formal education, that observes direct interaction between teachers and students as well as among students, is undoubtedly the best way to achieve learning goals, as well as to help in social and psychological development in addition to the cognitive development of students in different academic stages. However, due to the circumstances created by the pandemic, the Ministry found in distance education the appropriate means to complete the academic year, as part of the precautionary measures taken by the state to preserve the health and wellbeing of students, as well as of all workers in the educational sector, he added. Great Strides made in Distance Learning H.E. Dr. Al Nuaimi stressed that the Ministry has made great strides in establishing e-learning over the past years which has been put to the test successfully over the past few months. H.E. Dr. Al Nuaimi noted that the rapid and highly professional response of the Ministry was represented by the adoption of the MS Teams system as a major platform for distance learning, and this was accompanied by ensuring schools’ readiness and teachers’ familiarity with the required skills. Students and their parents are also guaranteed access to systems. Moreover, more than 1,600 tablets and more than 4,800 home broadband devices were distributed to provide internet access to students who do not have those capabilities, in addition to broadcasting e-lessons on YouTube and distance learning channels on Television, he added. Distance Learning in Private Schools And on the distance education process in private schools, His Excellency told QNA that that it is going well, and the application rate reached 100 percent with no obstacles reported. He pointed to the multiplicity of systems used in private schools as a result of different experiences in the e-learning system, and the different policies adopted according to the special systems and curricula in each school. Different private schools have taken varied approaches to distance education. 85 percent of schools are using distance learning to provide interaction between the teachers and students while the rest of the private schools are resorting to e-learning through the use of educational platforms and video lessons.