quotes Transforming Saudi education with AI: unlocking new possibilities

04 July 2023
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Updated 04 July 2023

Transforming Saudi education with AI: unlocking new possibilities

The recent success story of a French artificial intelligence start-up, which raised an impressive $113 million investment within just four weeks, echoes globally and within Saudi Arabia as to the importance of this technology.

Investment in AI for education is not just a trend but a necessity. The volume of change that AI could bring to the education system in Saudi Arabia hinges on substantial financial commitment. The strategic investment is vital in ensuring that AI’s transformative potential is fully unlocked, thereby enhancing the quality of education and paving the way for innovative learning solutions.

As the Kingdom strives to embrace progress, the potential impact of AI on education becomes increasingly significant. By examining AI’s transformative opportunities and tailoring them to the Saudi context, educators, students, policymakers, and investors can lead a new era of educational excellence and innovation.

According to a recent OECD report on AI’s progress in maths and reading, advances are driving a rapid technological transformation, and understanding how AI capabilities relate to human skills is crucial for predicting the future of education. The report highlights the potential impact of AI on work and life, particularly in areas such as literacy and numeracy. The findings emphasize the need for policymakers to reshape education systems to ensure students are prepared for the future and that adult learners have opportunities to upgrade their skills.

Addressing the Saudi Vision 2030: embracing AI in education

As the Kingdom undergoes educational system restructuring through privatization and public-private partnerships, stakeholders have a unique opportunity to reimagine education practices from fresh perspectives. By embracing AI as an enabler of progress, Saudi Arabia can leverage this transformative technology to drive innovation, enhance teaching methodologies, personalize learning experiences, and revolutionize assessment practices, and by strategically integrating AI within the context of privatization and PPPs, new possibilities in the educational sector can be unlocked.

To effectively plan and implement AI integration, understanding the capabilities of AI in relation to human skills is crucial. The OECD report provides valuable insights and recommendations for policymakers. It highlights the need to reshape education systems to prepare students for the future and offer opportunities for adult learners to update their skills. By considering the findings and recommendations of the report, Saudi educators and policymakers can harness the power of AI in the classroom and beyond.

Personalized learning for Saudi students

Personalized learning empowered by AI can address the diverse needs of students. Saudi Arabia is a culturally rich and diverse nation, and AI can provide tailored educational content that reflects students’ cultural backgrounds, learning preferences, and aspirations. By harnessing AI algorithms, educators can design personalized curricula, ensuring that students receive an education that aligns with their individual strengths and interests. This approach promotes engagement, motivation, and a lifelong love for learning.

Automated assessments for efficient education

AI can streamline assessment processes and offer timely feedback to students. Traditional assessment methods often need to be revised due to large numbers of students in the system, making it difficult to provide individualized attention and prompt evaluations. However, AI-powered assessment tools can automate grading and assessment, letting educators evaluate performances and provide feedback efficiently.

Empowering Saudi educators with AI tools

To fully embrace AI in education, Saudi Arabia can invest in developing AI tools and platforms tailored to the unique needs of educators in the Kingdom. By providing professional development programs and resources, Saudi educators can enhance their own skills and knowledge in AI integration, enabling them to navigate the AI-powered educational landscape effectively. Collaboration between educators, researchers, and technology experts can drive the development of localized AI solutions that cater specifically to Saudi classrooms.

To fully harness the benefits of AI in education, Saudi Arabia must prioritize investment in AI technology, resources, and training. Investing in AI is not merely about procuring the technology but equipping educators and policymakers with the requisite skills and tools to effectively integrate and leverage this powerful technology. The long-term returns on such investments could be enormous in terms of improved educational outcomes and contributing to Saudi Arabia’s broader socio-economic goals.

Fostering ethical AI in Saudi education

As Saudi Arabia ventures into its AI-driven educational transformation, it is essential to prioritize ethical considerations. The Kingdom can establish guidelines and frameworks to ensure responsible AI use in educational settings. This includes addressing concerns such as data privacy, algorithm transparency, and fairness in AI-driven decision-making processes. By fostering a culture of ethical AI practices, Saudi Arabia can build trust in AI technologies and foster a supportive environment for their integration into the education system.

Reflecting on the AI Ethics Principles developed by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), Saudi Arabia's AI-driven educational transformation should be guided by principles such as fairness, privacy and security, all of which are integral to achieving the Kingdom's Vision 2030 and related national strategies.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 presents a clear pathway for embracing AI in education. Through strategic investments in AI technology and a commitment to innovation, Saudi Arabia can unlock transformative opportunities in teaching, learning, and assessment, customizing AI-driven solutions to its needs. These investments are financial and involve investing in people, training, and ethical practices. As a result, Saudi Arabia has the potential to position itself as a global leader in AI-driven education, making a significant difference to its future generations. The OECD report on AI’s progress reinforces the need for policymakers and educators to reshape education systems to best prepare students for the future. By harnessing AI as an enabler of progress and investing strategically in its implementation, Saudi Arabia can empower learners in the fast-evolving digital landscape, equipping Saudi learners with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.

Ahoud Alshaikh, Ph.D., MSc, MA, Harvard CSML, is an education expert specializing in edtech, educational assessment, public-private partnerships, and educational corporate governance.