Educational Response to COVID-19 from Jordan and other Arab Countries

Author: Nour Awamleh, Research and Program Development Coordinator, Queen Rania Foundation

The Activating Edtech project in Jordan aims to develop an agile, iterative and evidence-based approach to the decision-making process within the Jordanian Ministry of Education. Activating Edtech aims to understand problems and assumptions in education, then tests out the possible solutions to those problems while trying to activate technology, where possible. The project started in January 2019 and continues to today. After introducing the team, we turn to the education response to COVID -19 across a number of Arab countries.

The Activating Edtech team consists of MoE staff from different departments, the Queen Rania Foundation staff and consultants (from Open Development & Education and IEA, Lebanon). The project has held 6 sprints during which various activities took place. The activities range from prioritisation of issues in the education system in Jordan, planning for walking periods (tasks finalised and achievements accelerated before next sprint), experimentations, presenting findings and so on. Members of the team have been recently meeting for coworking sessions once every week (for a couple of months now) in order to facilitate the working process. For more information about Activating Edtech, read the blog post about the Arabic version of design thinking for educators.

COVID-19

In light of the current Coronavirus crisis, students and teachers in Jordan are mainly leaning on TV channels broadcasting lessons as well as educational online platforms such as OpenEmis, Darsak, Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom and others. The Ministry of Education in Jordan is trying its best to come up with solutions to cater to the needs of the students and teachers. The Activating Edtech team has been meeting virtually and volunteered to work together to address problems and come up with quick solutions during this time of emergency. 

What are other countries in the Arab world doing?

Other Arab countries are mostly using TV broadcasting too as well as online platforms, however, there are some slightly different efforts that can be seen below.

CountryTVTools UsedNon-Tech ApproachesParental Engagement
JordanTV channels broadcasting lessonsEducational Online Platforms Official ones (MoE): OpenEMIS, Darsak, NoorSpace Others such as: Microsoft Teams, Edraak   The MoE recently launched a TPD platform: www.Teachers.gov.jo     Certain private schools have their own online platforms. Few private schools are emailing parents of primary school students material and learning resources. (e.g. Mashrek International School)
LebanonTV channels broadcasting lessonsYoutube presenting lessons   Educational Online Platforms such as Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, BBB (BigBlueButton)      Distributing material/written content to students who live in remote areas that don’t have the required connection nor devices. Students can solve exercises and leave notes, the content will be delivered to teachers to add in their feedback, then once again delivered back to students. 
MoroccoTV channels broadcasting lessonsRemote learning initiative via a website called “Telmid TICE”, which provides lessons categorised by levels and subjects.   Telecommunication operators are offering students free internet access to educational websites that are providing online classes during distance learning because of the Coronavirus.Schools are preparing for catch-up classes after the quarantine for students in remote areas that don’t have access to TVs nor internet connection. 
BahrainTV channels broadcasting lessons14 channels on Youtube posting lessons   Teachers and students are also using Microsoft Teams and Office 365 to manage their classes and communication.   A main, subject teacher will use the service to give lessons, meanwhile, specialised helping teachers can respond to questions from students. Working on additional tools to help parents who are teaching their children at home.
Oman Omantel (a telecommunication company in Oman) is announcing a partnership with the Ministry of Education to launch G Suite for Education to all schools in the Sultanate. This would be a suite of free Google apps custom-made for schools where classes are held remotely, assignments/documents could be created and shared. Interaction on a collaborative canvas is possible too.  
Abu Dhabi   Abu Dhabi’s Department of Education and Knowledge prepared a Parent Guide for distance learning.

In brief, most countries are using TV channels and websites like Youtube to present lessons. As well as online learning platforms and websites for education initiatives. Very few non-tech approaches are being provided, which raises concern for a specific portion of the population who do not have access to internet connection nor the required devices.

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