JEDDAH: Digital transformation will play a key role in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, a G20 meeting of research ministers in Italy has said.
Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh, who attended the Friday meeting, stressed the importance of analyzing and evaluating the impact of rapid digital transformation and technologies on education and society as a whole.
He added that the pandemic continues to cast a “deep and direct shadow on the world at the social and economic levels,” which will accelerate the digital transformation of societies.
This requires a need to test the flexibility of educational systems and their resilience and recovery and adopt new and innovative educational methods, he said.
Al-Asheikh added that the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to be seized, and “not just a passing crisis.”
The ministerial meeting aimed to link the academic community with continuous digital transformation, improve the link between higher education and the digital economy, enhance the role of university education in managing societal change, and prepare university education institutions to perform their tasks in education, research and innovation.
“The emerging opportunities stimulate our awareness and the need to withstand and meet new challenges,” said Al-Asheikh.
He added that a successful leadership is one that sees the need to involve every member of society, gain their confidence and encourage them to adopt digital transformation and innovative technologies so as to be part of this transformation, in education and work.
The Saudi minister noted the importance of the data we choose, uproot and build on our new communities stressing the need to ensure that data protection and cybersecurity systems are able to protect citizens, their privacy, rights and aspirations.
In his speech, Al-Asheikh addressed the Kingdom’s investment in digital transformation, linking it to Vision 2030.
He reviewed the country’s investment in study programs and degrees in advanced digital skills, information and communication technology, cybersecurity, data science and artificial intelligence, as well as investment in innovation, entrepreneurship and research.
Al-Asheikh said that the Kingdom now ranks second globally among countries committed to cybersecurity at the global strategic level, and ranks first in the Arab world and 14th globally for the amount of research published on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These are key achievements showing Saudi Arabia’s commitment to progress and evidence-based development,” said Al-Asheikh, adding that 84 percent of the research conducted in the Kingdom took place within public universities.
The Saudi minister added that the Kingdom is keeping in line with the transition the world is going through by focusing on research and innovation to ensure that the developments of the Kingdom’s new digital economy move into the future in line with Vision 2030.
Al-Asheikh called on countries present in the meeting to work together to maintain dialogue, exchange experiences and create solutions to put “human capital, rights, respect and dignity at the heart of all operations.”
He thanked Italy and the president of the G20 for establishing the event as a new working group, and praised the efforts of professor and Italian Minister of University and Research Dr. Maria Cristina Messa for chairing the meeting.