Young Saudis ‘have learned a great deal’ amid pandemic: Expert

Saudi youth make up 60 percent of the population. (AN photo by Essam Al Ghalib)
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Updated 07 July 2020

Young Saudis ‘have learned a great deal’ amid pandemic: Expert

  • Modern internet infrastructure, accessibility in Kingdom ensured smooth running of online education


 LONDON: Despite its short-term challenges, the learning experience from the coronavirus pandemic may prove to be an advantage for young Saudis in the medium to long term, an expert has argued.

The pandemic, and the changes it has caused to education, employment and general wellbeing, have been major challenges for young people all over the world, including in Saudi Arabia.

But Mark Thompson, head of the Socioeconomic Unit at the King Faisal Center for Research & Islamic Studies, believes that there could be a silver lining to the disruption it has caused: A more strategically minded young population.
Speaking on Tuesday at an online seminar attended by Arab News, Thompson said Saudi youth, which make up 60 percent of the population, adapted quickly to the massive changes to their education that accompanied virus-control measures.
Saudi Arabia suspended all schools, universities and educational institutions on March 9 to contain the spread of coronavirus, delivering education entirely online.
Thanks to the Kingdom’s 90 percent internet penetration rate and the wide availability of internet-ready devices, Thompson said, the country successfully navigated “the switch to online learning” and managed to ensure “the continuation of learning through digital methods.”
One standout triumph from this period was the smooth delivery of university exams by the Ministry of Education, which conducted over 220,000 tests entirely online.
But more than just changing their method of learning, the disruptions have been a chance for many young people in the Kingdom to reflect on their own futures.
“This has also changed attitudes to specialization, toward programs such as business degrees, which are more suited to virtual classrooms,” Thompson said.
“The pandemic has altered young Saudis’ idea of education. It has compelled many young people to become more self-taught,” he added.
“They’ve learned a great deal from this experience. They can now develop clearer visions for their future careers, as well as the institutions they want to join.
“If the pandemic helps foster critical and strategic thinking in a lot of young Saudis, in the medium to long term we can consider this an indirect benefit.”
The pandemic has caused major disruption to children’s and young adults’ education worldwide.
UNESCO estimates that up to 60 percent of students globally have been impacted by school closures, amounting to over 1 billion affected learners.
 


KSRelief dispatches help for Lebanese medical teams treating explosion victims 

Updated 58 min 55 sec ago

KSRelief dispatches help for Lebanese medical teams treating explosion victims 

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has assisted Lebanese medical teams treating victims of the Beirut explosion on Tuesday.

Emergency teams from the Souboul Al Salam Relief Team, which is funded by KSRelief, went from north of Lebanon to Beirut to support medical teams on the ground. 

Another team from Al-Amal Medical Center, also funded by KSRelief, provided emergency health care services and started a blood donation campaign to meet the demand of Beirut hospitals.

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The prime minister of Lebanon, which is already struggling with an economic crisis and battling COVID-19, has made a desperate plea for help following Tuesday’s deadly explosions.
Kuwait said it has delivered medical aid and other essentials by a military plane on Wednesday morning.
The World Health Organization and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies were sending 40 tonnes of medical supplies, including personal protective equipment to Beirut on a flight paid for by Dubai-based International Humanitarian City, a hub for humanitarian emergency preparedness and response, a WHO representative said.
"We are offering medical trauma kits and surgical kits containing things such as syringes, bandages and surgical gowns," said Nevien Attalla, operations manager for the WHO's Dubai hub.

*With agencies