Muscat: Hundreds of schools in Oman are set to begin their new academic year on Sunday, following the instructions of the Supreme Committee for dealing with COVID-19.
Schools were temporarily shut to stop the spread of the pandemic, with lessons transitioning online. For the majority of the more than 600,000 students who attend government schools in Oman, lessons will continue to be held online, according to Dr Abdullah bin Khamis Ambusaidi, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education.
“So far, the statistics indicate that 82 per cent of the study will be through distance education, 10 percent through blended education, and seven percent through physical attendance,” he said. “We are observing the situation, and the ongoing developments, and there might be some changes to this later.”
“We have given flexibility for schools to adopt simultaneous education, which requires the presence of a guardian with the student,” added the undersecretary. “We have installed facilities for them, in terms of timing.”
To check their students’ progress, teachers and parents can access the online educational platforms set up by the Ministry of Education, which is available to them at any time.
Ambusaidi also encouraged parents to become a part of their child’s learning process.
“What concerns us is this issue of simultaneous learning, because of the required operations and flexibility on the part of the schools,” he said. “We will determine the appropriate timings for this by communicating with the school administration and the Directorate of Education.”
“Three committees were formed by the ministry and the directorates, to ensure the implementation of blended and distance education,” he added. “There are committees within schools concerned with implementing and following up on the existing regulations and procedures.”
To make sure all students do have the requisite devices available for them to study their lessons online, the Ministry of Education has aimed to provide them to students through local vendors. Students can also learn through the computers present at school.
“The ministry sought to provide devices through local suppliers (Omantel and Ooredoo) and offer suitable deals at affordable rates, along with internet packages that suit all the needs of the community,” said Dr Nasser Al Abri, the Director General of the Information Technology Department at the Ministry of Education.
“Computers are available across almost all of the Sultanate’s schools, and we have given schools the options to redistribute their devices internally, in a manner that is in line with their study plans,” he added. “Teachers may use their personal devices in school facilities.”
While the platforms set up by the ministry are compatible with all devices, as a workaround to providing the required educational material, the government had come up with an alternative scenario, should the gadgets required by students not be available in shops.
“Pupils in grades 11 and 12 do not require to have laptops as they can use online learning platforms through their mobile phones,” said Dr Ali Al Jahwari, the Director General of the Directorate of Education in the Governorate of Muscat. “Pupils between grades five and 10 will be taught information technology subjects for two classes a month.
“Schoolchildren in small families may share and use the same device for learning,” he added. “Students in grades one to four will be focusing on the theoretical part of information technology, and the procedures of how to use a mobile phone.”