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Education and training need to adapt better to crises in Arab Mediterranean countries


The latest study by the EMNES’ Mediterranean economists has pointed out weaknesses in educational and training systems and policies in Arab Mediterranean countries in the face of the pandemic. Version française




Emnes deplores that "the management relied on closing and opening schools depending on the epidemiologic situation". (photo : F.Dubessy)
Emnes deplores that "the management relied on closing and opening schools depending on the epidemiologic situation". (photo : F.Dubessy)
A study by the EMNES (Euro-Mediterranean Network for Economic Studies) has highlighted the insufficient means and resources for educational and training systems and policies in Arab Mediterranean countries (AMCs) to deal with crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
Financed by the European Training Foundation (ETF), the document sets out the difficulties in “bridging the gap between cities and countryside, in closing the digital divide and, consequently, in reducing the high levels of unemployment and inactivity, particularly in young people”.
 
To analyse these systems, Rym Ayadi applied the three pillars of resilience model (preparedness, management and recovery). She concludes that “weak preparedness, structural and societal problems, hampered by the pandemic, undermined governments' extensive efforts to build functioning, blended educational and training systems." The EMEA president, who is also director of the EMNES, goes on to mention “the emergency protocols put in place are not well structured in the majority of cases. The management relied on closing and opening schools depending on the epidemiologic situation.” She also highlights “the lack of specific measures to manage the training sector and financial resources and the lack of plans to re-organise the educational and training sector.” Rym Ayadi advocates “a reinforcement of physical and digital infrastructure, increasing human resources or partnerships with the private sector.”

Draw up a pandemic protocol

Policy response index in arabe mediterranean countries (EMEA COVID-19 Policy Monitor "Methodology in Ayadi et al (2020b)
Policy response index in arabe mediterranean countries (EMEA COVID-19 Policy Monitor "Methodology in Ayadi et al (2020b)
Taking a cue from the ETF’s regional report** for 2021, the study recommends creating an early warning system. This would reinforce capacity in the school environment and educational centres by using alternative solutions adapted to the new situation, thus guaranteeing continuity in education and training courses.  

The EMNES also recommends drawing up plans for online training, in collaboration with schools, universities and educational and training centres. "Increasing public-private partnerships would allow free or low-cost internet access to be extended to remoter areas,” says the document.
 
Such an approach, requiring upstream investment, means teachers and educators would need to receive ongoing training on new digital tools and teaching models. Bringing civil society and the private sector together in joint ventures of this type would ensure these professionals are better prepared for change and the effects of prolonged home learning on young people.
 
The study recommends that schools and training centres, with the help of experts, draw up a “pandemic protocol” to manage the issues of physical presence, online classes and possible infections at their premises. Given the inequalities that exist between the various AMC regions and cities, such a protocol would ensure their specific characteristics are taken into account in any pandemic.

  * "Education and Training Policies in Response to COVID-19: Preparing for the Recovery - A Focus on Arab Mediterranean Countries" May 2021. Lead-Author/Editor : Rym Ayadi, President of EMEA and Director of EMNES, with the support of Sara Ronco, Researcher at EMEA.
  ** "Human capital development policies, an ETF assessment -Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region")



Thursday, June 3rd 2021



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