COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to Innovations in Education in Saudi Arabia
School closures due to the pandemic led to 6 million children being part of Saudi Arabia’s journey to digital and distance education. Around 98% of students in the Kingdom, logged into the “Madrasati” (“My School”) platform, which is a local bespoke learning platform, according to a new World Bank report titled, “Saudi Arabia’s Digital and Distance Education”.
The report identifies the strengths of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in K–12 education and discusses the opportunities for educational improvement following the digital and distance education experience. The study was conducted on a nationally representative sample of almost 18,000 students, teachers, school principals, supervisors, and parents, with virtual classroom observations as the pandemic unfolded over the 2020-21 school year.
More than two-thirds of teachers believed that their students’ academic achievement and skills increased during the digital and distance education provided in Saudi Arabia in the 2020-21 school year, and there is high demand for more digital learning content.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to the development of human capital in Saudi Arabia, as it did in countries across the world,” said Issam Abousleiman, World Bank Regional Director for the GCC. “The story of Saudi Arabia’s journey to rapid and widespread digital and distance education is one that many countries are interested to learn from.”
Teachers reported increases in their students’ digital literacy, independent learning, time management, creativity, and problem solving. High satisfaction was expressed by teachers in the training and support they received during the transition to online learning.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all education systems,” said Keiko Miwa, Human Development Director. “Saudi Arabia’s experience illustrates the importance of supporting teachers to excel in their roles by providing them with useful tools, training, and guidance.”
Not all students thrived in digital and distance education. The experience was particularly difficult for the youngest learners and those without devices or having to share devices. The report also reveals some concerns over students’ feelings of isolation, boredom, laziness, lack of physical activity, eye strain, and absence of social interaction with peers. Around half of students felt that they would have learned more in the classroom, and most teachers, parents, and school principals wanted to see a return to in-person schooling, with continued use of Madrasati and the new digital resources.
All students in Saudi Arabia returned to in-person schooling during the 2021-22 school year. Blended learning models are being studied to better understand the future possibilities for education in the country.
To continue improving education following the experiences during the pandemic, the report recommends further efforts to identify and support students needing additional help, ensuring all students have the devices and connectivity they need for distance and blended learning, and to target teachers’ professional development to reduce variability and ensure all students have access to high-quality teaching.
Rwanda receives $100million from World Bank to boost private sector
The World Bank has approved an additional credit of $100 million in IDA financing to support Rwanda in increasing access to finance and supporting businesses’ recovery and resilience in the post-pandemic period.
The additional finance will scale up investments under the Access to Finance for Recovery and Resilience project by providing financial relief, risk-sharing instruments, and long-term sources of funding to businesses.
The additional financing will support an innovative Sustainability-Linked Bond instrument to be issued by the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) in local currency – a first for a World Bank operation, facilitating the mobilization of private capital in an IDA country.
This type of transaction is also a first for a development bank globally and provides a model that could be scaled up in Rwanda and elsewhere in the region.
The bond issuance will be part of a programmatic SLB issuance program to support the Development Bank of Rwanda’s institutional strengthening through diversifying its funding sources via capital markets while nourishing its role and commitments to achieving Key Performance Indicators aligned with Rwanda’s sustainable economic development.
“The additional financing will further expand the project’s pool of innovative blended finance which had already brought together World Bank financing with funding from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and a grant from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery,” said Rolande Pryce, World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda.
“This innovative operation goes a step beyond by enabling private capital mobilization, representing yet another great example of the fruitful collaboration with the Government of Rwanda to build solid foundations for Rwanda’s socioeconomic transformation.”
The BRD Sustainability Linked Bond program is expected to align closely with BRD’s broader strategic objectives of promoting sustainable economic development.
The program will rely on a sound sustainability-linked financing framework, including specific measurable Key Performance Indicators, which will enable the program to receive the ‘sustainability-linked’ label.
The identified indicators will be relevant, core, and material in relation to BRD’s activities and the Government of Rwanda’s sustainable development objectives; measurable; externally verifiable; and bench-markable.
With this operation, the Government of Rwanda will play an enabling role in BRD’s foray into long-term institutional sustainability and sustainability-linked financing.
The issuance is expected to act as an important signal for the wider use of debt markets, promote this form of financing among other potential issuers, contribute to domestic capital market development, and position Rwanda as a leader in sustainable finance regionally.
The proposed transaction is also expected to position Rwanda favorably internationally and support broader private-sector capital flows to strategic sectors. In addition, the proposed issuance could provide a template for broader sustainability development in the financial sector.
Important Skills for Business Owners to Have
Most business owners want to do everything they can to create a successful business. This can mean seeking qualified and high-performing employees and providing high-quality products and services for their customers.
However, a business’s success can often come down to the skills of the owner and their ability to make sound business decisions. If you want to put your business in a solid position to succeed, here are some essential skills you might need.
Read any online business magazine, and you’ll likely see mention of how crucial communication in business can be. A lack of communication from management can lead to high turnover rates and even contribute to general staff dissatisfaction and poor customer service. As a result, communication skills can be vital for you to have as a business owner.
When you communicate with your employees, vendors, and clients, you’re setting an expectation for everyone around you to follow suit. A communicative business owner can create communicative managers and employees who know how to ask for what they want and need.
Whether you’re happy with a small business or want to turn your fledgling company into an international brand, you must be financially literate to achieve your goals. Without a basic understanding of your business’s finances, you risk not reaching your full profit potential.
The best business owners know how to maximize their cash flow, price products and services for profit, and ask for help from expert accountants when they can’t manage their financial obligations like taxes on their own.
Digital Marketing Skills
If you’re in the startup phase of your business, you likely don’t have a large enough marketing budget to hire an employee to take care of this important task for you. Not having a large budget for marketing doesn’t mean you should neglect it altogether.
Marketing can be crucial for growing your business, obtaining market share, and building brand recognition. As a result, business owners should take the time to learn the marketing fundamentals so they’re able to advertise their business in the right places.
Being a good leader involves being empathetic, a good listener, setting clear expectations, and embracing change. You might believe you’re good at being ‘the boss’ in your business, but you can be a boss without having valuable leadership skills. Prioritize leadership skills and potentially enjoy a range of benefits like increased staff happiness levels and high retention rates.
As a new business owner, your grand plan might be to hire employees to sell your products and services for you. However, having basic sales skills can still be important. With a fundamental understanding of how business sales work, you can ‘sell’ your business to potential new employees, onboard new clients successfully, and potentially win new customers.
Fortunately, learning new sales skills is generally straightforward. You can attend sales training, find a mentor in the sales world, and read helpful business articles online. Every small amount of new knowledge gained might be more valuable than you think.
The average business owner might have the dedication and tenacity to start a new business, but it doesn’t mean they have all the necessary skills to ensure their business succeeds. Fine-tune some of these skills above, and you might stand a better chance of enjoying business success.
BRICS vs the US ‘rules-based order’
The inability of NATO-backed Ukraine to defeat the Kremlin’s forces and the commercial and economic dependency that Western countries have fallen into vis-à-vis China confirm bitter apprehensions about a rapid decline of the US-led Western bloc, writes Côme Carpentier de Gourdon, a member of the Editorial Board of the World Affairs Journal.
The next BRICS summit scheduled in South Africa in August is likely to announce various momentous decisions, such as the admission of new member-states, including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Argentina, and Egypt and set a timetable for the introduction of a new joint currency to replace the US Dollar in international trade between them.
The likelihood that this rival to the Greenback may come into being in the short or medium term has set alarm bells ringing in the financial citadels of the Western world and especially in the United States, already shaken by the parlous state of their economy and the declining status of a rapidly devaluing Dollar (in terms of purchasing power).
The economic threat posed by this future monetary vehicle combines with the challenge posed to American supremacy by Russia and China and incites Washington DC to use all its political, diplomatic, military and judicial arsenal in order to derail this process.
One cannot but view in that context Russian President Putin’s inculpation by the International Criminal Court, by a Prosecutor who appears to have been highly susceptible to pressure. In line with this ‘pull all the stops’ strategy, the American government and its allies are now applying the greatest pressure on South Africa to arrest the Russian head of State if and when he comes to participate in the August BRICS summit. Clearly, the intent is to prevent the gathering from fulfilling its agenda by embroiling its members in a legal controversy about the primacy of international law over the diplomatic immunity of heads of state in foreign countries. The sabotage tactic can be effective if South Africa, the host state, faces damaging economic and diplomatic sanctions that might topple its fragile political edifice, given its ethnically divided society and an economy still under heavy ‘Western’ influence.
The South African spokesman has indeed recalled that, though foreign heads of state have diplomatic immunity, the latter does not supersede arrest warrants from a supra-national judicial authority although the ICC (to which Pretoria is a signatory) cannot compel a sovereign state to comply with its demands.
Similar pressure tactics and threats are being implemented by the G-7 Clan towards the G20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – both chaired by India this year – which the United States and its subalterns are holding hostage to the Ukrainian question. There is a realisation in Western circles that Ukraine cannot win this war on the battlefield so that only a major geopolitical upset can turn the table on Russia. Humanitarian and other moral concerns are mere fig leaves over the naked resolve to maintain hegemony through the ‘rules-based order’ system.
It is enough to recall that a rapidly growing percentage of the world’s population is now under some kind of sanctions, most unilaterally decreed by the United States with the support of its allies, to realise that mankind is split between the Club of the sanctioning powers and the rest of the world, which can fall victims to these sanctions at the will of the US Congress and the White House. India has had that experience in the last decades and faces it once again, in connection to its energy trade with Russia
India is being courted by the US while being harshly criticized in the globalist ‘legacy media’ on various grounds but in reality for professing constructive multi-alignment.
The recent offer from the US Congress of NATO-Plus status to New Delhi is predicated on India’s acceptance of the broader US agenda, against a promise of technology transfer and business incentives but it will necessarily entail the loss of strategic autonomy and independent decision-making. It should be kept in mind that any country or personality, legal or physical, can always fall under the sway of US sanctions if it ceases to comply with the prescribed ‘rules-based code of behaviour’, all the more so if it contributes to any initiative regarded as an existential threat to the Superpower’s status.
And the BRICS, at last potentially, matches that one-sided, self-serving definition of what goes against the global order.
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