The UAE positioned to become digital education leader
Posted on 2021 Jun,06

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, life has been difficult for parents and children alike. Daily routines have been upended by mass disruption, and school closures have affected billions of learners worldwide, leading to the rapid, sudden expansion of digital learning.

Arthur D. Little (ADL), a management consultancy firm with the longest-standing presence in the Middle East region, expound this viewpoint in their latest report entitled Accelerating post-pandemic e-learning: An opportunity to establish a sustainable digital education system. The document highlights the success that school systems have enjoyed when mitigating negative closure impacts through digital tools, explaining the essential framework for successful new normal education and why digitalization is fundamental for establishing a sustainable, high-class education system.

As per the report’s findings, the availability of digital tools has reduced the negative repercussions of the pandemic on schools overall, laying the foundations for governments, schools, and education companies to converge remote learning and technology use moving forward. While countries are at different stages of digital learning progression, some have fared more favorably than others, as reflected by country-specific data that has been recently published. In terms of the UAE, post-pandemic e-learning is highly likely, especially when considering the country’s notable digital education system status at the global level. The availability of online learning support platforms nationwide is already at 70 percent, while the availability of teacher resources on digital tools has reached 88 percent – higher than the US, Sweden, Austria, and Italy, where remote learning shifts have been successful.

“The vitality of uninterrupted digital learning became apparent almost immediately when COVID-19 emerged. As education communities now look ahead to the future while referring to recent leanings, they can take full advantage of opportunities that lay ahead, transforming their schooling systems to ensure all concerned parties benefit from newfound performance capabilities,” said Dr. Raymond Khoury, Partner at Arthur D. Little, Middle East. “From a UAE standpoint, the country is excellently positioned to accomplish this, as emphasized by the statistics mentioned above. The 70 percent of online learning support platforms is 15 percent above the global average listed by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the 88 percent for digital teacher resources is 24 percent above the global average. Making the transition from remote to digital learning now imperative, something that must be successful in enabling sustainable value in education.”

Accelerating post-pandemic e-learning: An opportunity to establish a sustainable digital education system comprehensively explores how countries can transition from remote to digital learning, providing recommendations for others to apply as they seek to position themselves for sustainable success.

Arthur D. Little also offers actionable insights to help governments and schools better adapt to the new normal post-COVID-19 as part of a specially developed framework, one that enables a sustainable long-term transition to digital learning and accommodates specific requirements in terms of governance, culture, pedagogy, and infrastructure and technology.

“For governments and schools, a holistic digital learning approach is a topmost priority over the coming period. Leaders are required to ensure not only appropriate investment allocation and pursue a digital education strategy that accommodates every concerned player, but also that digital skills are taught with the same level of importance as others and data governance requirements met,” explained Dr. Khoury. “At the same time, a digital education culture is required to be promoted and fostered in every establishment, teachers must guide and support students throughout their digital learning journeys, and the importance of infrastructure cannot be overlooked. With regards to the latter, seamless access to infrastructure is paramount, with students and staff requiring software, hardware, and reliable internet connectivity at all times.”

The report concludes with several next steps for digital education stakeholders to carry out as they seek to use COVID-19 digitalization to their advantage and establish leading digital education systems:

  • Guidance and resources should be provided to schools for them to implement digital education successfully.
  • School leaders should consider themselves digital education role models and facilitate education and learning amongst staff.
  • Establish an ICT teacher position that creates a single point of contact for staff to prepare for digital classrooms.
  • Work with the broader education ecosystem to adapt to new and emerging educational needs.