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Impact of Covid-19 on education discussed


Staff Reporter

Muscat, May 24

The virtual symposium titled “Learning Loss in the Coronavirus Pandemic: Effects and Solutions” organized by the Ministry of Education began on Monday under the auspices of Dr Madiha bint Ahmed al Shaibaniyah, Minister of Education.

Dr Abdullah bin Khamis Ambusaidi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Education for Education, and a number of experts from UNICEF, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the International Association for Educational Achievement Assessment (IEA) attended the virtual symposium.

The symposium is aimed at teachers, administrators, supervisors, social and psychological specialists, students, and their parents in different governorates, as well as those concerned from the ministry, and a number of government and private agencies.

Dr Al Shaibaniyah said in her welcoming speech, “The statistics of the UNESCO show that 94 per cent of students around the world are affected by the pandemic. The Sultanate quickly responded to the spread of Covid-19 by implementing all precautions and moving to the online learning environment to ensure the continuity of the learning process. Schools and teachers made great efforts in implementing the online platforms in their teaching from the beginning of the pandemic until today.”

The minister also praised all the efforts made by everyone in facilitating the implementation of the online educational platforms and in training on utilising them in teaching.

The first day of the symposium included four main sessions. In the first session, Dr Ambusaidi delivered a paper titled “Education in and Post the Corona Pandemic: Learning Loss or Teaching Loss”. He said that “the Omani education system has to work in the coming phase on finding answers to the questions raised by educationists, specialists and stakeholders in regard to the education post Covid-19. The education system also needs to make applicable policies and measures to solve the issue of the learning loss”.

In the following session, Dr Dirk Hastedt, Executive Director of IEA, presented a paper titled “Effective Tools in Diagnosing and Monitoring Learning Loss”. He reflected in his paper on what approaches can be used to measure the learning loss; what data is already available to support data-driven policies; and what future data and opportunities can support countries in finding solutions during this unprecedented time.

In the third session, Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills at OECD, presented a paper under the title “Measures in Dealing with Learning Loss” in which he touched upon the developments throughout the pandemic with data collected by the OECD which show that social distancing and hygiene practices are widely used measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Countries made major efforts to mitigate the school-closure impact on learners, families, and educators; and they often made special attention to those in the most marginalised groups.

The last main session of the first day came under the title “Acquisitions Accompanied the Covid-19 Pandemic — Experiences Around the World and the Way Forward” presented by Suad Nabhan, Expert of Education and Youth Programs at Unicef. In her paper, she touched on the effects of the pandemic on education and how different countries reacted to the spread of the Covid-19 with Oman being amongst these countries. She also reflected on new initiatives in education from around the world.

It is worth noting that this symposium is covering three main topics as follows; “the causes and magnitude of learning loss, and its effects due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” “local and international experiences and initiatives in assessing and following up on learning loss”, and “appropriate solutions and plans to address learning loss in the Sultanate.”

The symposium seeks to reduce the learning loss, identify educational, psychological, and social priorities and needs, treatment methods, and the course of policies related in the next phase.

It also aims to find innovative and effective solutions, and to limit its short-term and long-term effects, as well as to highlight the roles of stakeholders from the educational field and the partners from the public and private sectors in addressing it.

In addition, the symposium seeks to make use of the best local and international experiences and practices in evaluating and addressing learning loss, and to identify national priorities for the learning process in the next academic year 2021-2022.

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