[S6269] Responding to COVID-19 in the MENA Region: Insights on Education and Communication Challenges

Created by SYSTEM Manager
Tuesday, 10/13/20 12:00 nn


As the world continues to cope with the sudden and unprecedented disruption to education and social interaction the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, observations of how certain challenges and communication behaviors will be affected in the future are key. This panel examines emerging practices in formal and informal education across the MENA region in an attempt to better understand some of the pertinent challenges and opportunities the pandemic brought to individuals and institutions alike. The first two papers examine educational policy and curriculum in response to COVID-19. The first paper critically addresses the transparency of the official narrative communicated by the Egyptian Ministry of Education locally and internationally, and how it has been perceived by teachers across the country. Although Egypt’s recent COVID-19 educational policies have been internationally endorsed, there seems to be a gap in the government’s international narrative and the implementation of these policies on the ground. The second paper discusses the role of social sciences curricula in enriching learners’ historical agency and democratic engagement during these uncertain times. For learners to perceive COVID-19 as an opportunity for positive social change, curricula need to effectively situate their abilities in the wider socioeconomic context and impact of the pandemic. The other two papers show how digital practices have shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic by looking into cases of social media interaction and access to open educational resources made available online. The third panel paper is a preliminary study that looks into informal learning communities amongst Middle Eastern women on Facebook groups and ripple effect into society. While many have suffered from diffusion of information on social media during the pandemic, women in the Middle East have re-created narratives of solidarity and social justice; redefining social identity and the power dynamics in virtual human interaction. The fourth paper highlights the stressing need of access to open educational resources among underserved and endangered communities in the MENA region. With the rise of calls for education equality and social inclusion, limited access to Arabic digital educational content and the lack of diversity in content design approaches are two challenges to be addressed by governments, international organizations and agencies, and digital content designers immediately.





Sara O. Ahmed

(TC Columbia University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;