RIYADH: The chairman of the G20’s Education Working Group, Abdulrahman Ali Al-Amri, on Wednesday reaffirmed that education is the main catalyst of sustainable development.
During a briefing about continuity of education in times of crisis, he thanked Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Minister of Education Hamad Al-Sheikh for their efforts in ensuring education is high on the main G20 agenda.
“As you know, education was, for the first time, a hot issue on the main agenda of the G20 during the Argentinian presidency in 2018, but was not present on the main agenda of the G20 Summit that Osaka of Japan hosted in 2019,” Al-Amri said. “Thanks to the G20 Saudi secretariat for the efforts they have made to bring education to the main agenda of G20.”
It is a key driver of all aspects of sustainable environmental, social and economic developments, he added.
Highlighting the work carried out this year by the education working group, Al-Amri said that it had identified three main priorities.
“We started with two at the beginning,” he said. “To choose our priorities, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Saudi 20 Secretariat and international organizations, listed the educational topics that are of international interest.” This list was whittled down “until we ended up with two main priorities, both of which we believe are important and timely,” he added.
The first is the importance of early childhood education as a foundation for the development of global competence and 21st-century skills.
“Under this priority two sub-priorities were determined,” said Al-Amri. “The first one was increasing equitable access to early childhood education, while the second sub-priority was to conduct a study on the effect of technology in early childhood education.”
The second initial priority was internationalization, a flexible process for the integration of international, intercultural dimensions into the education system at all levels. Again, two sub-priorities were identified.
“The first one was to call for international cooperation to increase internationalization in the learning environment,” said Al-Amri. “The second sub-priority was collaboration to foster internationalization in education.”
When COVID-19 emerged as a global health crisis, resulting in the closure of schools and the adoption of distance learning, the minister of education instructed the working group to explore the issue and suggest to the Saudi Secretariat an additional priority.
“Education continuity in times of crisis was added as a third priority,” said Al-Amri. “It included building resilient educational systems that can accommodate any future crises.”
He added that a study was conducted to investigate how technology used in early childhood education can help with distance learning.
“In response to the spread of the virus, the study focused on the use of digital technologies for education and the development of young children, as well as distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Saudi Arabia holds the presidency of the G20 this year and Riyadh will host the main G20 summit on Nov. 21 and 22.