The Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), and the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States (ABEGS) today held a video conference, with the participation of Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, ICESCO Director General, Dr. Mohamed Ould Amar, ALECSO Director General, and Dr. Ali Abdul Khaliq Al-Qarni, ABEGS Director General. The teleconference aims to coordinate efforts of the three parties on the implementation of the initiatives launched by each party to counter the adverse effects of Covid-19 on the fields of education, science and culture, and agree on specific mechanisms to implement a set of recommendations as decided upon.
At the outset of the meeting, ICESCO Director General reviewed the major initiatives launched by the Organization to counter the negative effects of Covid-19, including:
1. Launch of “ICESCO Prize for Fighting against Coronavirus”, with US$200,000 in prize money;
2. Launch of “ICESCO Comprehensive Humanitarian Coalition” based on field projects, executive programmes, strategic anticipatory plans for the Islamic world, and an endowment fund;
3. Launch of “ICESCO Digital Home” which provides digital contents in ICESCO’s areas of action;
4. “ICESCO Short Films Award” which aims to encourage creative film production among youth and set up ICESCO Library of Short Films;
5. Production of awareness-raising videos about the importance of prevention from the spread of Covid-19 in Arabic, English, and French;
6. Providing technical support to establish units and train local community members to produce low-cost sanitizers in the several Member States;
7. Organization of a set of virtual conference and meetings in ICESCO’s fields of action to examine the reality of the fields of education, science, and culture amid the Covid-19 crisis, and anticipate their future in Muslim countries.
Afterward, ALECSO Director General reviewed the major initiatives launched by the Organization, including:
1. Launch of “ALECSO Initiative for Distance Learning and Education”, organizing “distance training sessions for teachers”, and installing the e-learning software (Moodle);
2. Establishing an interactive platform for the Secretaries General of the Arab National Commissions and the Executive Council’s Members;
3. Holding the First Virtual Panel Discussion of the Secretaries General of the Arab National Commissions and the Executive Council’s Members;
4. Holding teleconference meeting of the Standing Committee on Arab Culture;
5. Organizing a distance training workshop (on statistics of culture and entertainment) for the benefit of statistical agencies and the Arab ministries of culture;
6. Translating the book “Facilitating flexible learning during the disruption of education – Chinese experience in maintaining the continuity of learning during the spread of Covid-19” into Arabic, preparing a glossary of Covid-19, and digitizing all the contents of the library of the Organization and its external centers;
7. Preparing and publishing a prevention guide from the risks of Covid-19 in Arabic, Chinese, French, and English, posting awareness-raising video on Covid-19 in sign language, and designing an awareness-raising infographic about the proper health behavior for the prevention of Covid-19.
Moreover, the ABEGS Director General reviewed the major initiatives launched by the Bureau, including:
1. Launching the “Distance Education” website via ABEGS’s electronic portal;
2. Providing free access, on the Bureau’s website, to one hundred and sixty books on the Bureau’s products of its various educational science programmes for teachers, educators and other people;
3. Organizing several teleconference meetings and forums in ABEGS’s fields of action, most notably the Meeting of the Bureau Executive Council, and the First Online Meeting of Secretaries General of the Center for Arabic Language Education;
4. Participating in the academic meetings held at the international level and transmitting the practices of countries to counter the effects of Covid-19 on the educational sector;
5. Providing the guide of the training programmes and the electronic services;
6. Publishing several brochures “Jossor electronic brochure on distance education,” an information brochure entitled “How to help your child in distance learning,” and “an awareness-raising brochure for the Gulf and Arab family on dealing with children during the new circumstances”;
7. Preparing an information booklet on adopting the digital education to raise awareness of students, teachers, and schools’ principals about distance education, and publishing “Your Awareness-raising Guide on Covid-19”.
At the close of the meeting, the Directors General of ICESCO, ALECSO, and ABEGS agreed on the need to put mechanisms to implement the following recommendations:
1. Calling upon regional and international organizations, including ALECSO and ABEGS, to join the Comprehensive Humanitarian Coalition launched by ICESCO;
2. Calling for the establishment of the joint Arab-Islamic observatory for disaster management, crisis response, and risk reduction;
3. Developing a comprehensive joint training programme for capacity-building and skills development for Arab teachers in the field of distance education;
4. Accompanying Member States, particularly the countries most in need, in promoting their efforts in distance education and seeking the support of donors to strengthen their distance education infrastructure;
5. Monitoring and documenting the efforts and initiatives of the three Organizations in dealing with the crisis triggered by Covid-19;
6. Adopting a joint programme for psychological and health education to respond to crises;
7. Proposing “Covid-19… experience and prospects” as a theme for the coming forum, due to be held in Riyadh in October 2020.