KUWAIT: This photo released by the National Assembly's office on Sunday shows members of the parliamentary culture and guidance affairs committee meeting with Ministry of Education officials.

By A Saleh

KUWAIT: The parliamentary culture and guidance affairs committee held a meeting on Sunday with Ministry of Education (MoE) officials to discuss e-learning in both private and public schools. In this regard, committee member MP Mohammad Al-Dallal said MoE promised to submit a work plan within a week after the private education department announced the optional use of e-learning platforms.

Dallal said the e-learning decision is legally effective since April 1 and that schools will not include assessment grades given before the suspension in the e-learning assessment process. "This would be wrong and legally contestable and questionable," he stressed, noting that this achieves equality amongst all students. Dallal said effective April 4, parents will have to sign a special form of approval to have their children study online.

Education Minister Dr Saud Al-Harbi had chaired the ministry's undersecretaries' council meeting Saturday morning to discuss a mechanism to implement the Cabinet's decision approving the resumption of the current school year (2019-2020) in foreign schools through e-learning.

According to the ministerial decision issued in this regard, foreign private schools will be allowed to resume the 2019-2020 academic year using online and e-learning platforms, which will be optional subject to parents' approval, while parents who refuse will be allowed to have their children resume studies once schools reopen as planned by the ministry on August 4 to undergo a 5- to 6-week course after signing a special affidavit.

In a bid to ensure effective control on schools, the ministry has prepared a special form for parents' approval to have their children resume studies online, according to decision number 14550/2020 issued by the assistant undersecretary for private education Abdul Mohsen Al-Huwailah regulating the study plan, means of assessment and tuition fees.

The decision commits foreign private schools to prepare special plans to resume the 2019-2020 academic year online with clearly a defined curriculum, schedule, interactive online student-teacher tools and timetables showing students' daily and weekly tasks.

In addition, the decision includes the basic system schools will follow to ensure follow up and effective control of students' performance and details the assessment tools applied in each school in accordance to its educational system. Every school will also explain its 2020-2021 academic year schedule and timings, taking into consideration that the new academic year starts at a date following the period to be dedicated to completing the current school year for students who do not wish to study online.

The ministry also decided to adopt assessment methods for e-learning based on student-teacher interaction and communication, attendance, participation, homework assignments and students' commitment to doing them in view of the basic skills they acquire during the assessed period, after giving students a suitable grace period to do these tasks.

As far as tuition fee is concerned, the 2019-2020 school year regulations set by the ministry include a condition banning collecting any fees for students' use of online learning and deferring the payment of the delayed fees until the distribution of certificates at the end of the school year - be that following the online courses or after the conclusion of the period dedicated to resuming the current school year studies.

The decision also included a regulatory measure that guarantees the privacy of information and data transmitted and exchanged between the student and the school, and the prohibition of publishing anything that might affect this privacy policy.

The education ministry had also ordered private schools, closed as a preventive measure to prevent spread of coronavirus among students and teachers, to pay salaries of their staff. The ministry said Law No. 6 of 2010 gave the ministry authority to take legal, financial and administrative measures if private schools failed to pay wages of their employees. The ministry's private education sector would take legal action against any school failing to pay wages of their employees, it said.