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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - RIYADH — During the recent Learn On Saudi Online Education Summit, hosted by Huawei with sponsorship from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and in partnership with UNESCO Institute for Information Technology in Education (IITE), education leaders from Saudi Arabia and China discussed the need for seamless education to meet the Kingdom’s goals for transformation, and the role of technology in enabling students to continue learning during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Like other sectors, the education sector was faced with many challenges and had to take some serious measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, which caused rapid changes as schools and universities transitioned to online learning during the pandemic.
During the online summit, panelists addressed the need for collaborative efforts between the public and private sector in order to not only ensure equal access to educational resources during this time, but to fulfill social obligations that target the most critical components of society.
The summit also allowed for experts from King Saud University, King Abdulaziz University, Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University, and Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in China, to exchange their experiences, best practices and share effective strategies that pertain to online learning improvements as it is believed to be the new normal following the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the summit, Huawei and MCIT announced the launch of their latest cooperation “Learn On” platform for students and the public, who can receive Huawei ICT Career Certification through the courses.
The programs will provide high-quality academic resources on an open platform, including access to online training to enhance their knowledge. The collaboration seeks to ensure educational continuity on various topics such as AI, 5G, IoT, cybersecurity, and so on, in addition to exploring improvement areas based on COVID-19 experiences and knowledge sharing.
To further encourage students to participate in the knowledge-building program, Huawei, through its partnership with MCIT, will provide the first 2,000 qualified trainees with a free HCIA Certification voucher for career certifications in various technical areas.
Charles Yang, president of Huawei Middle East, said: “It is especially important in times of crisis, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, that we ensure the continued development of human capital — particularly in terms of providing seamless access to education for the younger generation.
“Technology has a significant role to play in keeping students connected to their teachers, and Huawei is committed to extend its support to telecom operators, MCIT, and CITC who are doing a great job to ensure network stability and fast connectivity even with the exceptional data traffic due to COVID-19.
“Huawei is keen to play vital part in ensuring that educational institutions have strong connectivity solutions, while students have the means to study online.”
Mohammed Al-Suhaim, chief executive officer of the Saudi Digital Academy one of the initiatives of MCIT, said: “The coronavirus pandemic imposed a suspension of education and training in the Kingdom, but with the support of the country’s leadership and guardianship in these exceptional circumstances, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia demonstrated its commitment to providing the best digital standards to its citizens for a better future which, led to a smooth flow and the successful continuation of the distance learning process.
“Our partners, including Huawei, have proven their crucial role during this transitional period. Today, our daily experiences are all based on technology, as various sectors in the Kingdom rely on smart solutions to a degree that is more rapid than ever before.”
Turki Al-Madi, Saudi Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, said: “There is great value to be gained by deepening global cooperation in the fields of education and technology, especially in this challenging time for societies around the world. In particular, Chinese leading companies like Huawei and academics have a wealth of experiences that we can benefit from here in the Kingdom.”
Dr. Tao Zhan, director of UNESCO IITE, said: “Nine in ten students around the world are affected by COVID-19 school closures — that is more than 1.5 billion learners in the world.
“This unprecedented disruption requires collaborative efforts in order to ensure that learning never stops, so that students are given the most seamless experience possible with continuous access to their lessons.
“UNESCO is working closely with global partners including Huawei for this goal through its Global Education Coalition. The webinar today for Saudi Arabia is a good example of the collective approach.”
Terry He, chief executive officer of Huawei KSA, said: “Huawei is committed to sharing its technology, experience, and talent cultivation standards gained from years of operations in the ICT industry with Saudi Arabia customers and partners.
“Today, we are proud to announce the launch of our latest initiative “Learn On” which is a joint effort between Huawei and MCIT. The platform offers valuable content that is available online and open to the public on emerging technologies. Our aim is to truly support the country, especially in the area of human capital.
“This has become evident since we started our own initiative Saudi Talent Enabling Program (STEP) that contains different tracks and programs designed for fresh graduates and young professionals.”
Previously, Huawei donated 1,000 tablets to the Ataa initiative, led by MCIT during COVID-19, to provide students around the Kingdom with the means to continue learning online. This aligns with Huawei’s commitment to empower 10,000 ICT talents in Saudi Arabia by 2023, through its Saudi Talent Enabling Program (STEP).
Huawei expects a set of truly immersive and advanced ICT experiences to emerge, allowing users to transcend the boundaries of time and space in domains like ultra-high-definition live broadcasts, smart classrooms, remote education, online healthcare, and virtual entertainment.
The company also continues to seek an open collaboration with all KSA stakeholders to optimize the value of ICT to education and other sectors for shared success. — SG
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