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.

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