We caught up with our network of educators, experts and thought-leaders across the MEA region to see what has changed in the education sector over the past few months.
By Elle Monaghan, Content Producer for Bett
We’ve seen some big changes in the education sector during 2020. Since our Advisory Board last met the education community have overcome the challenges of teaching and learning during a pandemic and challenged traditional forms of education. During our meeting last month, we considered which of the recent changes to our daily lives will become the ‘new normal’ as a result of the recent pandemic. From increased virtual opportunities to enhanced online lesson delivery, it’s clear that many features of our education system will be significantly different after the pandemic has passed.
Our Advisory Board noticed some considerations which educators will need to address over the next few months.
Virtual Opportunities Beyond the Classroom
We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of virtual experiences being made available online. While virtual offerings do not replace physical experiences, they have been a much-needed method of sharing knowledge and best practice during this uncertain time. We’ve seen a lot of webinars on our social media feeds, but these are not the only ways to move experiences online – we’ve also spotted some virtual internships taking place and some universities offering virtual open days. Watch this space to see what comes next, particularly for higher education providers!
“When our Annual Art Exhibition was unable to go ahead, our team pulled the community together and produced a fantastic Virtual Expo of student artwork. You can see the final exhibition here.”
The Digital Divide
Whilst the shift to home learning has made room for progress in EdTech strategies across the globe, our Advisory Board have also observed greater evidence of the digital divide. This ranges from a lack of access to hardware such as laptops and mobiles in order to enable remote learning to problems in infrastructure and network connectivity. While some children are benefiting from seeing schools drive digital strategies forward, others are being left behind due to circumstances beyond their control. If hybrid learning models are here to stay, we will need to come up with permanent solutions to these challenges which prevent vulnerable children from being left out of the conversation.
“Some students in public schools are currently being left behind, so we’re drawing children into remote working opportunities. For the past 5 weeks we’ve been conducting free online STEM lessons to help KCSE candidates whose learning has been disrupted by the current pandemic.”
Prioritising Independent Learning
Our Advisory Board agreed that it is much harder to keep students engaged during distance learning, particularly when the pedagogical use of EdTech still needs to improve. It’s great to see that teachers are beginning to open up to using technology in new ways and it has been wonderful to see education providers growing more confident in their use of EdTech and experimenting. However, parents have also reported that it is hard to prove that students are consistently engaged and taking value from online classes. It’s essential that students are being given the tools to learn independently in order to make them effective 21st century learners.
“Tech should be used to supplement the face to face teaching - this has shown that nothing can replace the role of a teacher and delivery skills should be improved now. We need to use this transitional period to improve education.”
Social and Emotional Development
The Advisory Group has observed that, while the focus has been very much on the quality of education during this time, it is also essential to focus on the other things which bricks and mortar schools provide and which students are current missing out on. A huge factor in K12 learning is social and emotional development, which is very hard to measure in an online environment. Many now expect education to shift towards a hybrid model constructed of both online and offline learning, but as we do so we must also make sure we prioritise the invisible benefits of attending school.
“It's incredibly hard to measure how engaged kids are and when kids will tune in and tune out. It's therefore a lot more complex than that - you can put in an online school, but what about the other things you get from schools.”
Sonia Ben Jaafar
What key changes to the education system have we missed? To hear more from Bett MEA’s Advisory Board, keep an eye out for more articles in the coming weeks that will discuss the latest themes, topics and innovation that are at core of Bett MEA 2020.
For 2020, Bett MEA will be taking place in Festival Arena, Dubai – one of the most dynamic education hubs in the region. Bett MEA transforms learning through offering an exhibition where experts and educators can strategise, participate in professional development and share their vision of how to improve learning outcomes across the Middle East and Africa regions.
For more information or to find out more about opportunities in Middle East & Africa, please don't hesitate to contact one of our expert team members directly or for general enquiries contact email@example.com
Location & Opening times:
Festival Arena, Dubai Festival City Dubai, UAE
Tuesday 8 December, 09:00-18:00
Wednesday 9 December, 09:00-18:00