Times of Oman
Omani schools, industries to benefit from digital transformation
July 17, 2017 | 8:33 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan/[email protected]
Technology giants are currently partnering with governments across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to help bring cutting-edge software to schools.
 
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Muscat: Oman is sure to reap the benefits of digitisation of schools as the next generation of students apply their more technologically-savvy skills to become better workers in the future, said Saif Al Hosni, Small to Medium Partners Public Sector lead for Microsoft Gulf.

Technology giants are currently partnering with governments across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to help bring cutting-edge software to schools, in an attempt to bring them up to speed with the technological capabilities of today’s students.

“Microsoft has always acknowledged the unique power of technology to transform learning experiences around the world,” said Al Hosni, speaking to the Times of Oman. “We remain deeply

committed to supporting initiatives across the GCC that are geared towards enhancing the education sector.”

“Our plethora of solutions span personal computing, productivity and the intelligent cloud—empowering teachers and students to achieve more through technology,” he added. “The true power of our innovations lies in enabling teachers and students to create, collaborate and share in entirely new ways.”

As technology becomes increasingly commonplace at homes, educators are concerned about whether students will be able to relate to traditional methods of teaching in classrooms.

In this context, Oman’s Ministry of Education had signed a long-term deal with Microsoft to upgrade public schools across the nation, in April.

“We live in a time of startling technological progress,” explained Al Hosni.

“Every aspect of our lives, economies and societies is being shaped by digital technologies, while entire industries are being disrupted by platform businesses: Airbnb in hospitality, Uber in transportation, and Facebook in media. So how do we ensure that technology creates opportunities for all, rather than a fortunate few?

“Many school leaders are feeling pressure to show impact, transparency and immediate results, which they do by purchasing technology without enough planning or strategy,” he added.

“This way of thinking about digital transformation is short-sighted and sets the school up for unpredictable results and even more disruptive change.

“It is here where disconnects between classroom and workplace are born.”

“Significant advancements have been made in the GCC education sector in the recent years,” revealed Al Hosni. “The average youth literacy rates are just above 97 per cent, and the GCC in total spends 17.5 per cent of its fiscal budget on education, which is higher than the United States (15.2 per cent), United Kingdom (11 per cent) and Germany (5.2 per cent). These are clear signs that education is a top priority for countries in the region.”

Al Hosni also emphasised the need for proper planning, to ensure this investment leads to the right results.

“It is important to work backwards—to start with the results you want to achieve,” he said. “Describe the base skill-set of a productive employee. Now, how do you go about equipping teachers to nurture and grow that talent in the classroom and beyond? That involves discussions about curricula and teaching methodologies before examining the technologies that can make it all happen.”

“Of course, technology alone is not the answer to transforming education,” added Al Hosni.

“Teachers, school-leaders, parents and involved communities are the ones making the real change. Technology is merely a tool to empower their creativity and ingenuity.”


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