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RIYADH: International education officials at a global conference in Riyadh have been warned against overreliance on distance learning and warned that it does not deliver the same results as in-person teaching.

Nuno Crato, Portugal’s former education minister, told the 2022 International Education Conference and Expo that while technology is playing an increasing role in education, so-called e-learning “does not promise the effectiveness of in-person teaching”.

During a presentation titled “The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be,” Crato highlighted the changes in the education sector around the world as a result of COVID-19, and said that “ historic transformations” are necessary to counter the effects of the pandemic.

He commended Saudi Arabia’s efforts to maintain the educational process through a shift to online learning, but stressed the importance of focusing on experiences, skills and foundations by training and qualifying teachers. students in science, reading and mathematics.

Crato described these subjects as “essential elements” that affect students’ knowledge and skills in various areas of life.

The OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, found that in many countries “conditions are not at the required level of positivity”, he said, adding that he there was much to learn from the practices of nations that achieved advanced results. in the tests.

Online education “doesn’t promise the effectiveness of in-person education and doesn’t deliver the same results,” Crato said.

Online learning has also added to the misconception about children’s preference for electronic tasks, he said, while studies show the internet’s potential to distract children due to the multiplicity of tasks they have to perform.

“Now we have an unprecedented body of knowledge that can help us in these debates. We need science, evidence and statistics. Cognitive psychology has seen a leap forward over the past few decades,” Crato said.

The economics of education flourished, with new methods and data, while statistics flourished with large-scale studies.

“A new future is in sight,” he said.

Abd Al-Salam Al-Jawfi, adviser at the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States, said that Saudi Arabia is working closely with global organizations in the field of education to benefit from the international experience and improve the quality of education.

Many global and regional education bodies support the provision of lifelong and quality education for all, as well as the strengthening of coordination, cooperation and integration in education, and the provision of resources and the promotion sustainable development programs for the poorest regions.

Al-Jawfi said that global and regional organizations contribute to the growth and improvement of education through a variety of benchmark research studies, programs and initiatives on a regional or international scale, as well as collaborative activities aimed at simplifying and improving education.

Borhene Chakroun, Director of Policy and Lifelong Learning Systems Division, UNESCO Education Sector, told the Riyadh forum that the global disruption to education caused by the pandemic of COVID-19 “is without parallel” and that the effects on learning are severe.

“The crisis has crippled education systems around the world, with school closures affecting more than 1.6 billion learners at the height of the pandemic. The short and long-term consequences of the crisis on education require further investigation, evidence and global dialogue,” he said.

Chakroun stressed the importance of learning from international and local advances in education, such as the Saudi Madrasati platform and other distance learning initiatives around the world.

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