Distance Learning in the Arab World: Report on the Response of Arab Countries to Educational Needs during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The education systems in many countries have faced ample of challenges that emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic as of the beginning of March 2020, which led to lockdown and closure of schools and universities. As a result, 86 million learner in Arab countries schooling were interrupted.
As such, Arab countries found themselves forced to choose between two options, either to use distance learning or don’t provide education at all. Majority of countries have headed towards distance learning, to ensure the continuity and management of the teaching and learning.
After three months of distance learning, it was necessary to evaluate this experience in its various aspects and to identify the most critical challenges faced, in addition to providing solutions that would advance the process of distance learning and its outcomes.
In this regard, the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States in Beirut was keen on benefiting from the opinions of all targeted educational stakeholders who have not participated before in similar questionnaires. In an aim to obtain a wider and a comprehensive view, therefore, specially designed questionnaires were sent to each of:
- The members of the Ministry of Education and supervisors of the distance learning process in Arab states
- Principals and directors of schools, institutes, high schools and universities in Arab states
The questionnaires discuss in detail many educational, technical and executive aspects and follow-up mechanisms that were adopted by the members of the Ministry of Education to manage the distance learning process and the difficulties and obstacles which pose a challenge to them. In addition, the forms of technical support and training that accompanied the administrative and educational entities; as well as the digital educational content, how to present it to learners and the forms of education that have been adopted by countries to ensure the continuation of the learning process. The questionnaires covered the following units:
- Unit 1: techniques and tools used in the distance learning process
- Unit 2: challenges and obstacles that face the distance learning process
- Unit 3: creation of the training content for learners
- Unit 4: evaluation in the distance learning process
- Unit 5: training educational institutions and learners on the distance learning process
- Unit 6: management and follow-up of the distance learning process
- Unit 7: a general evaluation of the practice of distance learning
This report was held in Arab countries according to three levels: Countries with advanced technical capabilities, countries with intermediate technical capabilities and countries suffering from crises and are considered countries with minimal technical capabilities.
UNESCO conducted this survey using the Arabic language, and addressed the governmental / formal educational institutions in schools, high schools, institutes and universities, during the period between the 2nd of June and the 12th of June 2020. Several Arab countries responded to the questionnaire were a total of 13483 participants have submitted responses. The Arab countries that have participated in this survey are the following: Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Palestine, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, Morocco and Yemen.