Now, more than ever, citizens need effective communication from ministers, leaders, experts and public health officials to inform the public accurately and clearly during this global crisis.
With the current pressure of the pandemic and the new normal that students are forced to adapt to with online learning, Dr. Tarek Shawqi, the Minister of Education, recently earned praise for his short 6 minute explanatory video posted on social media, in which he clearly explained for students the online method of registering into the “Edmodo” platform and registering their research.
The video included clear guidance on how to access the website, register, and a step-by-step explanation of all the different icons and phrases on the platform to help the student understand the meaning behind each category.
Online learning has been part of the education reform strategy for three years now, with over 700,000 tablets being distributed to 20,000 schools in 20 governorates since March of 2019, according to Ahram Online.
The shift to distance and online learning has brought its own challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, it allowed the Ministry of Education to scale up technology-based learning with the distribution of tablets and enhance access to digital resources.
However, many obstacles still remain. Parents and students are still very new to the system, which attempts to omit memorization and encourage independent learning, research, and analysis. As a result, various incidents of cheating and bribing of teachers appeared.
Earlier in April, Ministry of Education announced an alternative to exams through a new research paper model that hopes to bring new research and critical skills to Egyptian students.
In an exclusive interview with Egypt’s Minister of Education in 2018, Dr. Tarek Shawki told Egyptian Streets cited Egyptian parents and families as the main opposition to the shifting system.
”We realized that, yes, you can get very competent technical expertise to build curricula, to talk about assessment, but the biggest problem is really a change in the mindset,” explained Dr. Shawki
According to the newly instilled policies of the Ministry of education, the new system will omit examination until 5th grade, exams will be digitized, teachers are to be re-trained, and a GPA system to be established for high school students.
On the 10th of March, an online meeting of education ministers was organized by UNESCO, consisting of representatives from 11 countries: Costa Rica, Croatia, Egypt, France, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru and Senegal.
During the meeting, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay announced the establishment of a ‘Global Covid-19 Education Coalition’, where experts are joined to support national educational responses and explore innovative ways to learning.
In Mexico, for instance, distance learning was extended to television to solve the lack of internet access for many families. “Only 60 percent of students have internet so we had to provide a mix of distance education with open TV to reach everyone,” said Mexico’s Secretary of Education, Esteban Moctezuma Barragán.