E-learning initiatives during COVID-19 crisis in MENA countries

Amid the COVID-19 lock-down of schools and universities, a number of governments in the MENA region kicked off online platforms to continue providing education services. In the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi University recently invested 55 million UAE dirhams on tools, i.e. Microsoft Teams and Workspace, to secure a large bandwidth and huge cloud storage, fend off potential hackers, and ensure students and educators have seamless interaction during periods of school closure. Moreover, Etisalat UAE helped more than one million students in the country to continue their education through its e-learning initiatives and online platforms. It further allowed over 10 million mobile subscribers to enjoy free browsing of over 800 websites related to education, health, and safety.

In Tunisia, the Ministry of Education announced an e-learning platform that is being developed locally by Tunisian engineers, teachers, and educational inspectors which will offer thousands of interactive activities, audio-visual resources, and textbooks for academic support.

In Jordan, while schools resorted to WhatsApp to send, receive, correct, and mark homework, some private colleges turned to the app Google Classroom. INJAZ Jordan has further launched a free e-learning platform for university students which provides instructional videos and interactive sessions between students. In the West Bank, teachers in government schools are using the Zoom app to teach up to 100 students at once. Egypt, Morocco, and Qatar are operating online platforms for education.

Yet, since computer and Internet access remain a problem in some countries in the region, some countries rely on TV programmes to reach students in remote areas and households who cannot afford computers, i.e. Egypt and Morocco. ‘There is no doubt that current challenges have highlighted just how important it is for schools to digitally transform, as recent changes will inexorably redefine the way these organisations operate in the future. This will drive a new wave of IT spending by schools and I believe we can expect this to occur as early as the start of the new school year, this September,’ said Riverbed’s Senior Director for Middle East and North Africa, Mena Migally.