As Oman continues to battle COVID-19, thousands of students started the new academic year 2020-21 on Sunday after months of vacation.
As many as 676,943 students including 334,889 girls embarked on the blended approach to education.
Speaking on the occasion of new school year, H E Dr Madiha bint Ahmed bin Nasser al Shibaniyah, Minister of Education, congratulated teachers and all members of the educational sector on the start of the 2020/21 academic year and extend her gratitude and appreciation for their sincere efforts and dedication to fulfilling the educational mission.
“I also want to congratulate our male and female students on this occasion, asking God Almighty that this school year – in which the blended education approach was adopted with a focus on distance learning – will be a year full of seriousness and activity. I hope they will make the most of the educational platforms and resources that have been made available,” she added.
H E Dr Madiha also called on the parents of students to continue their children’s education, and urged them to invest their time in a way that benefits the children.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) is taking all steps to guarantee the safety of students and teachers after the Supreme Committee announced that the school year can begin on November 1 that will see thousands of them embarking on online education.
“The ministry continues to work with telecommunications companies to provide Internet packages for schools,” H E Abdullah al Busaidi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education, said.
The school hours for students in Grades 1-4 is between 11am and 2pm, Grades 5-11 between 8am and 11am, and for Grade-12, between 8am and 2pm.
To help needy students, MoE has coordinated with the Ministry of Social Development to provide laptops and Internet packages. The packages are from RO90 to RO500 and can be paid in 12 monthly instalments.
The health protocols include clear precautionary measures provided by MoE such as checking temperature, using sterilisers, wearing face masks and maintaining physical-distancing in classes.
For some parents, the first day of school meant taking the day off from work.
“I took the day off from work just to make sure my children get acquainted with blended education and also to know exactly what needs to be done,” said Khalfan al Obaidani, a father of four school going children.
For some students, there is a sense of excitement in shifting to blended education.
“I am ready with my laptop and ready to start my classes. We will come to know how things go as we move towards the end of the week. I am exited to engage in this new way of study,” said Isaam al Khaldi, a Grade 8 student.
“MoE has reduced the percentage weights of exam marks and increased the percentage in the continuous evaluation tests,” a ministry official said.