- Almost 12 million learners affected in UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Prolonged school closures could lead to long-term economic effects
Dubai, United Arab Emirates – May 3 2020: Management consultancy Oliver Wyman estimates that due to the potential long-term closure of educational institutions, 0.1% to 0.4% of GDP will be lost for every four weeks of school closure.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on countries’ education systems, some of which have been unprepared for the magnitude of the crisis. Addressing challenges and minimizing impact to education systems requires a holistic strategy from government that considers all key stakeholders including education leadership, suppliers and providers, in addition to beneficiaries across the dimensions of policy response, financial measures, structural changes, and social considerations to ensure education continuity and resilience against future crises.
According to Jeff Youssef, Partner at Oliver Wyman, with 1.3 million affected students in the UAE, the government has focused on training teachers and tutors and offered advisory plans for distance learning in schools and higher education institutions. This includes the training of 34,200 school public and private teachers and administrators on creating virtual learning communities. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman have also introduced comprehensive distance learning measures.
Abdulkarim Alyousef, Partner at Oliver Wyman in Saudi Arabia, mentioned that the Kingdom has launched a new remote teaching award to promote excellence in remote teaching and assessment. Meanwhile, Kuwait has introduced changes to the academic calendar while Bahrain has introduced online partnerships and Oman has introduced digital solutions to aid distance learning through televised lessons.
Based on previous health crises, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Ebola Virus Disease (EBOV) from 2014-2016, they both highlighted additional social costs for governments and long-term implications, including a reluctance to travel abroad for education due to public health concerns.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for governments in the Middle East to build on their robust measures by addressing challenges and embracing innovative solutions to build a student-centric ecosystem that substantially transforms learning. Kindergarten, schools and universities must balance high quality standards against budgets considering the increase in expenditure on digital solutions while keeping costs controlled. Suppliers have the opportunity to provide the infrastructure to promote distance learning, emotional and behavioural support while supporting a rapid recovery post pandemic. By keeping the needs of students, teachers and parents at the forefront of measures, the effectiveness of policies and investment will increase for long-term benefit post COVID-19.