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Improving equitable access to education in conflict-affected environments through evidence-based practices

Research Paper for the 2nd Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum: Improving equitable access to education in conflict-affected environments through evidence-based practices

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Synthesis report – Distance Education Programmes Using Radio and Television in Arab States

Synthesis Report – Virtual knowledge-sharing workshop on distance educat…

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Regional Snapshot on the Status of Adult Learning in Arab States

Ar_Regional Snapshot – Arab States_final

Regional Snapshot Arab States on Adult Learning English

 

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Joint Support for Qatar’s Education Sector Response to Covid-19

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Report on main challenges faced by the Ministry in terms of distance-learning

First: The Education Sector (Public Schools – Sent to Danny in a previous email):

Second: The Education Sector (Private Schools):

First:  Many private schools do not apply distance-learning programmes. To this purpose, those schools have been supported through a coordination/partnership with Microsoft for the provision of necessary equipment and systems. Other schools have also agreed to support those schools via the provision of tailored trainings. Thus, all private schools are now applying distance learning programmes but with diversified levels of expertise, depending on their former experience in this area.

Second: A number of parents did not pay tuition fees covering the third semester, which resulted in the inability of many schools owners to continue paying wages of teachers and buildings’ rents (in additional to other obligations such as bank loans).

The importance for parents to pau tuition fees was emphasized. It was also recommended that private schools should take into account the conditions of parents in case they have difficulties to pay fees through specific payment facilities and reschedule.

Third: The lack of devices within low-income families and “low-cost” schools.

(The Ministry has committed to limit the number of these families, to provide a device for each vulnerable family in coordination with Qatar Charity and a number of other governmental and semi-governmental institutions present in the country).

Fourth: The inability of some parents to follow-up their children with distance learning programmes ; and the absence of parents during morning period, which further complicates the monitoring process.

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education has stressed amongst private schools the need to balance the application of distance learning programmes, allow for flexible arrangement; take into account the conditions of some parents who face difficulties.

Fifth: The difficulty to train students and parents on the use of distance learning programme and platforms, especially in the case of schools that did not apply this technology in the past.

Schools were alerted on the need to ensure continuous follow-up and communication with parents and to provide them with a hotline to ensure that all enquiries are answered if technical difficulties arise.

A number of schools have also created online platforms on their official websites to ease parents and students’ access to lessons and homework.  

Third: The Evaluation Sector:

The challenges faced by the Ministry regarding the exams system in public schools in light of the current situation:

First: The distance learning system for grades 1 to 11 (daytime)

• Difficulty to verify the extent of students ’commitment to solving applications by themselves, which reflects the lack of credibility of the results and outputs

Second: The twelfth grade test (daytime + adult education) and grades one through eleven (adult education).

• These students are not covered by the distance learning system (for the exams) due to the specificities of their exams and, therefore, will perform their exams according to the approved evaluation system.

• The Ministry is facing pressure from students and parents. They expressed fears that their children will go to schools to take exams, and they are calling on the Ministry to search for alternatives solutions.

• In this regard, the Ministry has taken precautionary measures to ensure the safety and security of student and school personnel during the exams period, as follows:

Students are redeployed across the premises of examination committees (day learning and adult education), where students (adult education) of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades, as well as students of private schools that apply the national standards for the twelfth grade, have been transferred to specific examination locations. This will reduce the number of students in the examination committees.

– Reducing the number of students in exams rooms in all schools (day and adult education):

– Number of students (8) in regular classes.

– Number of students (40) at the gym.

The distance between students should be at least three meters.

Reducing the exams time for each subject to one and a half hours instead of two and a half hours.

The required health requirements will be applied as follows:

1. Sterilization of schools during the period of exams by specialized companies.

2. Coordination with the Ministry of Health to ensure that a nurse is present in every school during the exams period.

Schools are required to take perform temperature checks for students and staff (by dedicated nurse)

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Report on main challenges faced by the Ministry in terms of distance learning – public schools

Most important challenges faced during the last period in terms of distance learning:

First: Intensive use of systems and increasing number of users at the same time – this is why Microsoft Teams application was adopted. Capacity of 300 thousand users at the same time. All videotaped lessons were uploaded on the dedicated YouTube channel for distance learning, in addition to two TV channels on which lessons are broadcasted. Educational TV channel 1 was allocated to primary education ; channel 2 allocated for secondary education.

Second: The educational community fears the shift from formal education methods to distance learning format. In addition, resistance is arising from parents who are calling to stop online education. To that purpose, we have designed and published a set of educational and printed awareness messages that were published through various media outlets. We have prepared a set of training videos on skills required amongst student to deal with the online educational programmes easily. It has also been published amongst parents. We also allocated 155 hotline numbers, in addition to the WhatsApp number, to respond to inquiries throughout the day, and set up technical support teams to solve the challenges facing the entire educational community during those difficult times.

Third: The difficulty to dispose of a credible controlling system to evaluate students, in the absence of school supervision. Difficulty to assess learning outcomes adequately within the distance learning system.

Fourth: The difficulty to apply the distance learning system to manual activities, scientific experiments and project-based learning activities. Thus, students miss the opportunity to perform experiments in laboratories and practice empirical training.

Fifth: Many parents are not familiar with technology and lack the skill to deal with such educational programs

Sixth: The lack of adequate equipment within families with low incomes. (The Ministry tried to identified those families and provided them with devices, as well as handover of the related equipment)

Seventh: There are deficiencies in some of the functions currently proposed by Microsoft Teams system. Compared to the formal schooling system, Teams does not provide teachers with sufficient options and features to meet educational purposes. Due to the great pressure on the network during the first days, it was difficult to host a large number of students at the same time. The main features are summarized as follows:

(1) Some technical problems related to evaluations through the FORMS application and the possibility to migrate data through MS Teams.

(2) In comparison to other learning systems, the lack of detailed reports on students ’performance in terms of knowledge application.