New law to regulate online education in Bahrain wins unanimous support

Proposal will now be drafted as proper law by the government within six months

Boy playing online video game on computer. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Boy playing online video game on computer. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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MPs have unanimously approved a new law to streamline online education.

It has been recommended by Parliament’s services committee, despite the ministries of Education, and Labour and Social Development deeming it unnecessary.

The authorities have said that e-learning and training are already regulated under existing legislation.

However, the new law has been backed by the Education and Training Quality Authority (BQA), the Bahrain Polytechnic and the Applied Science University, though they have sought amendments to include private schools in the framework.

The proposal was spearheaded by Parliament Speaker Fouzia Zainal alongside four other MPs including committee chairman Ahmed Al Ansari.

Higher Education Council secretary general Dr Abdulghani Al Showaikh denied accusations by MPs that the education system was “shocked” by the outbreak of Covid-19 last year.

“We have a strong platform for electronic education, right from the first level in school until university,” he said.

“Before Covid-19, we didn’t acknowledge higher education certificates acquired by distant learning in entirety, but now as we govern it carefully, suitable systems would be recognised.

“A number of decisions have been taken to regulate online education, with others on the way.

”Education Ministry’s schools’ affairs director general Dr Mohammed Juma’a said distant learning had its own challenges.“We have students with particular disabilities and their parents need to sit with them for online education,” he said.

“The existing legislation should be improved by MPs to establish electronic education alongside in-person attendance; there is no need for a separate law.

”Education Ministry learning technologies and resources director Nawal Al Khater said digital education infrastructure in schools has been there for six years.

“But we didn’t need to take recourse to it full-time before Covid-19.”Mr Al Ansari questioned why the Education Ministry was opposing the separate law, while MPs were issuing decisions to regulate such learning.

“Current rules and guidelines have been made as a quick response to an existing health crisis. But what we are aiming to achieve now is much bigger, for the futuristic electronic education and training process – turning it from an option into a proper system,” he said.

“We still believe in in-person attendance for proper education, but we want electronic education to be governed.”

The proposal will now be drafted as proper law by the government within six months.

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