The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that all primary, secondary, and tertiary schools will be online from August 30 and most of the education will happen via the Saudi Government online portal called Madrasati. This will be also supported with a TV channel and various YouTube videos.
However, looking at the portal Madrasati it is still not live, and the link is not working. From the YouTube channels about the Madrasati portal there are examples on how to attend classes, submit homework and share with teachers and parents.
The other problem is the lack of computers in the family, for a Saudi family with five children the parents will need to invest in 5 laptops, which is a burden for the low-income Saudi family.
For the younger children online learning or schooling starts at 3 pm so the parents will be able to help the young one to navigate through the Madrasati portal and Microsoft team. This will not be an easy task, letting the children sit for hours, idle in front of the computer screen.
Madrasati Saudi Online Portal is a good initiative by the government. We believe it could be done better as the government had more than 6 months to prepare. Ziyyara believes the future of education in Saudi Arabia should be a hybrid of physical and online learning.
Number of Saudi attending schools is around 6 million, people who visited the YouTube Madrasati online explanation is around 150,000. Awareness of online education in Saudi Arabia among the students, parents and even teachers is lacking. More efforts needs to be done to teach especially the teachers to handle a class of 40 children online.
Not everyone in Saudi Arabia have fast internet connection, not everyone has a printer, it seems the online portal will benefit only a few. Most of the Saudi citizens access online using their phone, the phone is not applicable to conduct and learn via the Madrasati portal. On social media such as twitter a lot of criticism is there that most of the teachers and 90% of the students are at loss in conducting and taking online classes .
All the classes will be prerecorded and not by your school teacher, therefore one-on-one interaction will not be there. This methodology was proven that it is not effective, the student can wander off and play with his phone or any other games available online. The teacher's job is only to make sure the student attended the class and correct their homework.
For students in Saudi Arabia to learn online, one on one interaction is needed, and that is not provided by the Madrasati portal. For example, Tajweed Al Quran classes need to be recorded and uploaded to the portal, there is no information neither the system is capable of performing this. Another issue if a student does homework and upload it to the system how will a teacher know this piece of homework is from his student. How will the student know the feedback from the teacher, will it be one on one and how it will be conducted.
At Ziyyara one on one learning in Saudi Arabia we are trying to bridge the gap. All our online classes in Saudi Arabia happens live are not pre-recorded, the teacher pays 100% attention to the student. The teacher is present throughout the class, and will make sure the student is present, focus on all the aspects of online learning. At Ziyyara online learning in Saudi Arabia we have teachers who understand the Saudi curriculum whether its Mathematics, Science, Physics, English, or Chemistry.
The other issue is the lack of training; there are lots of parents that are not trained to use the online portal, therefore they will not be able to train their children. If they face a problem during the class, who should they call, and is there a 24/7 number to call anytime which is equipped with teachers and IT personnel to answer any queries to the students and parents.
We believe the Madrasati portal is a good initiative, however proper testing is needed before it goes live. Proper education to teachers, parents and students also needed in various languages. On the other hand, will the system be strong enough to support 6 million students?
Saudi Arabia still has a long way to go, let's use this as a learning, let's use this as future to prepare our students for a different kind of learning. If the government is not ready, the teachers are not ready, and the students are not equipped then the Saudi government should wait before launching a not ready to use online portal.
Ziyyara online learning believes education should continue regarding the circumstances, the Saudi Government should be prepared in the future to tackle any future pandemic, let's use this as a learning and lets move forward instead of looking backward.