Hajj 2020: Good health main criteria for selection of pilgrims, minister says

Only Saudi residents and citizens under 65 years old join the pilgrimage and must take mandatory coronavirus testing and undergo quarantine. (File/AFP)
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Updated 25 July 2020

Hajj 2020: Good health main criteria for selection of pilgrims, minister says

  • The selection process was conducted in a transparent manner
  • About 2.5 million pilgrims performed Hajj last year

DUBAI: The pilgrims’ health status was the main criteria used in selecting who would be allowed to participate in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, state news agency SPA reported.
The selection process was conducted in a transparent manner and focused on participants’ well-being, the report added, quoting Saudi Hajj Minister Mohammad Benten.
Saudi Arabia decided to limit participation in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage with the continued threat of coronavirus to ‘global public health’, the Hajj and Umrah ministry earlier said.
Only Saudi residents and citizens under 65 years old join the pilgrimage and must take mandatory coronavirus testing and undergo quarantine.
“This decision is taken to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventative measures and the necessary social distancing protocols,” a statement from the ministry said. 
About 2.5 million pilgrims performed Hajj last year, with more than 1.8 million of them traveling from overseas to perform one of the pillars of Islam.


Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

Updated 23 October 2020

Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

JEDDAH: Six international organizations have completed two studies on e-learning in the Kingdom and praised its efforts in providing a rapid response, multiple options and continuous improvement during the coronavirus pandemic.
The studies involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.
The center said that the global organizations completed two comprehensive studies on the experience of public and higher education in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic, with the aim of documenting and studying the reality of the experience and coming up with initiatives to develop e-learning practices in accordance with current global practices and standards.
The studies were conducted with the participation of students, faculty members, teachers, parents and school leaders.
The number of participants in the public education study reached 318,000, while the number of participants in the higher education study reached 24,000.
The first study was prepared by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), with the participation of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Quality Matters (QM), the UNESCO Institute of Information Technologies in Education (IITE), the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) in the US.
The second study was prepared by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with the cooperation of the Harvard Graduate School
of Education.
In the studies, reference comparisons were made with more than 193 countries. The two studies showed the Kingdom’s distinction in the diversity of options, including, for example, electronic content and satellite channels available for e-learning in public education.

NUMBER

342k

The studies on e-learning involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.

The percentage of countries that succeeded in providing these at the national level was only 38 percent.
The study conducted by the OECD and the Harvard Graduate School of Education included a comparison of the Kingdom’s response to education during the COVID-19 pandemic with 37 member states.
The results showed the Kingdom’s progress in 13 out of 16 indicators on the average of
these countries.
The study also revealed that teachers received significant support to overcome obstacles to e-learning.
The study of public education indicated that there was a clear strategy for the Ministry of Education to reopen schools in the Kingdom and address any issues.
OLC hailed the efforts of the Saudi Ministry of Education in dealing with the crisis by providing a variety of options for e-learning, and the quick response to the pandemic and immediate shift to remote instruction.
The two studies recommended 71 proposed development initiatives for public education and 78 proposed development initiatives for higher education.
The National Center for e-Learning is working in coordination with the Ministry of Education to present the initiatives and begin their implementation.
The center announced that the organizations that conducted the studies would publish their results and complete the second phase at the end of the current semester.