Saudi Education Minister Dr. Hamad Bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh confirmed that the Kingdom had placed two education-related priorities on its presidency agenda for the G20 summit; early childhood education and internationalization.
When the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, a third priority centered on education continuity in times of crisis was added.
Focus on early childhood education comes to lay a foundation for the development of global competence and 21st-century skills, Al-Sheikh explained.
Speaking on how the coronavirus pandemic had affected education, Al-Sheikh said: “With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, education was one of the most important sectors affected by the application of distancing measures and closures.”
He noted that the shutdown of education facilities, which peaked in March, pushed systems around the world to resort to delivery alternatives like distance learning to ensure education continuity.
In light of the effects of the pandemic, the Saudi Presidency of the G20 stressed the need to invest repercussions as opportunities to develop solid educational systems capable of absorbing any future shocks.
G20 education ministers, in a final communique, reiterated their commitment to providing fair, equitable, and comprehensive education.
This is underpinned by building on e-learning infrastructure and hybrid learning.
They also agreed on improving access for all to high-quality early education, and the need to include global and cultural dimensions in all stages of basic education.
G20 education ministers, this year, were faced with the serious challenge of navigating the inevitable repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic on global education sectors.
Reviewing a mix of experiences of how countries dealt with the pandemic’s fallout, education experts said that some action plans were more successful than others.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Joghiman, head of the Education and Scientific Research Committee at the Saudi Shura Council, said that the impacts of the pandemic on global education were unforeseen for all countries of the world, including very advanced educational systems.
Speaking on the Kingdom’s experience with education during the pandemic, Joghiman said it was marked by “making the right decision, at the right time.”