Saudi Conference on Education and Training Evaluation Re-enforces Need for Data-Based Decision Making in Education

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The Saudi G20 Secretariat, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the Saudi Education and Training Evaluation Commission (ETEC)  concluded their two-day Conference on Education and Training Evaluation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The conference was held under the theme of “Improving Learning Outcomes and Economic Growth”.

The Conference was an opportunity for education influencers from the Middle East and across the globe to discuss the latest developments in education and training evaluation, an area that has had to rapidly adapt in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To keep students, educators, and others safe, assessors in all parts of the world have been forced to look at ways of maintaining quality evaluation of schools, universities, and vocational institutions, whilst also adhering to physical distancing requirements.

“Digital technology and artificial intelligence (AI) will be essential to the continuation of learning and evaluation as the pandemic continues to impact societies in Saudi Arabia and other countries,” said His Excellency Dr. Hussam Zaman, President of ETEC, upon the conference’s conclusion.

“Saudi Arabia has provided an example of how this can be successfully achieved, having 350,000 students sit their exams earlier in the year using distance learning platforms”.

Dr. Hussam also used the conclusion of the conference to emphasize the role of education in promoting economic growth, in line with the conference’s theme. A key goal for the Kingdom is improving education and evaluation services so that graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills to enhance productivity at a national level.

Dr Hussam says, “The rapidly changing area of data will be key in maintaining optimal evaluation of education and training and generating graduates ready to contribute to the industry. Education reform will be dependent on measuring progress through data analysis, using the latest tools and technologies available for data collection and assessment.”

Dr Hussam adds, “Quality evaluation of education and training can be achieved through effective evaluation methods and by using evaluation data to assess the success of reforms in making small and large decisions about education, including education policies.”

“By continuously improving education and training through data-driven decisions, we can be assured that graduates are meeting the standards we are seeking”.

The conference brought together 51 education experts from across the globe. An impressive list of international education leaders was in attendance and presented at the conference. Such experts included Mr. Andreas Schleicher, OECD’s Head of Innovation and Skills; Dr. Bill Maxwell, former Chief Education Officer of Scotland; Dr. Eric Hanushek, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Heika Paratha, Former Minister of Education in New Zealand; and Dr. Dirk Van Damme, the OECD’s Head of Innovation and Measurement of Progress.

The distinguished guests were joined by a host of Saudi officials and experts, including, His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Abu Thunain, Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Social Development for Labor; His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Al-Fuhaid, Governor of Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), His Excellency Dr. Tariq Al-Sheddi, Head of the National Data Management Office; Her Excellency Dr. Enas Al-Issa, President of Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University.