QT-Online / Monday, August 31, 2020 / Categories: Top News More than 340,000 students set to return to classrooms: Minister Tribune News Network Doha Minister of Education and Higher Education HE Dr Mohammed bin Abdul Wahed Al Hammadi congratulated students and their parents on the beginning of the new academic year. The minister also thanked the teaching and administrative staff for their tireless work and dedication to their duties despite the concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In a video message, the minister said, “It is beyond doubt that we have been facing a health threat that severely impacted the educational, health, economic and social aspects of life. Since the suspension of schools on March 22, the ministry has been working ceaselessly to provide innovative solutions that consider the health and well-being of our students and colleagues.” With schools in Qatar all set reopen on September 1, introducing a new concept of “blended learning”. The minister said over 340,000 students will attend to public and private schools for upcoming academic year of 2020-21. “We have been working over the past period to devise operational plans to receive students. Five new public schools were opened, including Qatar Technical Secondary School for Girls, which brings the total number of public schools and preschools to 283. Additionally, 145 new classrooms will be added to the existing public schools with a capacity of more than 3,600 seats to accommodate 124,700 students. This is equivalent to six new schools.” Moreover, he said, 13 new private schools and kindergartens with a capacity of more than 7,600 seats were opened, which brings the total number of private schools and kindergartens to 334. This will accommodate nearly 215,000 students. “Based on COVID-19 infection rate in Qatar and driven by our belief in the importance of resuming the education process, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, in close coordination with the Ministry of Public Health, decided to implement the 'Blended Learning' approach, which combines online and classroom-based learning. The maximum attendance rate will be 30 percent of each school capacity per day. This is the best possible rate for students under the current situation.” He said the in-person attendance on school premises achieves the academic objectives of the educational process and equips students with the necessary skills in subjects that require practice and lab-based experiments. Additionally, it enhances students’ cognitive concepts and strengthens the educational values and principles of human interaction. In parallel, blended learning will help realise the advantages of distance learning. Most importantly, it will allow students to develop and use IT skills. It will also build students’ sense of responsibility as well as innovation and creativity capabilities. “I would like to indicate that 'Blended Learning' offers parents a good opportunity to integrate into the educational system and renews their sense of responsibility towards their children's learning. The success of the blended learning, however, depends on many factors, the most important of which is the partnership between schools and parents,” the minister said. “We are sure that the parents will spare no effort to support their children, urge them to go to school on the weekly specified days, motivate them to benefit from attendance and follow up on their commitment,” he added. To ensure a smooth implementation of the blended learning, and to reassure the public community, and parents in particular, the ministry has decided, in full coordination with MoPH, that all public and private school staff members will undergo medical examinations prior to the academic year to ensure that they are free of COVID-19. “We have also stressed the necessity for all schools to comply with the precautionary measures announced by our Health and Safety Department. Violations of the preventive measures will not be tolerated,” the minister warned. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the ministry has quickly moved to automate its services. So far, 72 percent of the ministry services have been automated to ease the publics’ burdens and ensure social distancing measures are in place. He said the ministry did not overlook the quarantined, sick, or virus-infected students. Special school-based exam committees were allocated to allow them to attend the first and second rounds of exams in a convenient atmosphere. Nevertheless, they were isolated from the rest of students. “Regarding our university students, the ministry has also arranged to ease pandemic impact on them. They could resume their learning remotely both inside and outside Qatar. The study hours under the pandemic have been approved for courses that have been delivered regularly. We are constantly contacting our cultural attachés to follow up on the students and ensure their safety. Also, we have announced the opening of online registration for government scholarships and started receiving applications as per this year’s plan,” he added. Despite the pandemic, the ministry continues to implement its plan to expand on higher education institutions. The Lusail private university has been opened to offer an array of undergraduate programmes to over 500 students in cooperation with overseas universities. "Once again, I wish all our students a successful and fruitful new academic year, and I call on them to be optimistic and confident that this exceptional situation that struck the entire world will end soon. We must be sure that this tough experience is a blessing in disguise, which will strengthen and benefit our students in their future,” the minister said. “We pray that God would bring this pandemic to an end very soon and would protect our country.” Previous Article Kahramaa enters Guinness Book of records for largest drinking water storage tank Next Article Random COVID-19 tests to be carried out on students in Qatar: Dr Khal Print 3497 Rate this article: 4.0 Please login or register to post comments.