Building the future for education
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education is developing technology projects to support the digital transformation of the sector
In developing the knowledge economy, education is a critical requirement to ensure that development of an educated and skilled population. For Saudi Arabia, education is also a vital part of national goals as defined by Vision 2030, with education providing a vital base for future plans for the Kingdom.
The modernisation and enhancement of the education sector is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, and information technology plays a major role in realising these goals. Dr Yousef Al-Ohali, .GOV’s Saudi Government IT Leader of the Year, explained how the Ministry is developing new applications and services to in support of these goals.
What recent IT projects have been completed by the Ministry? What benefits have been gained by these projects?
Recently we completed several projects, which has served the Ministry of Education through the integration of information technology centres, as well as the launch of several services that helped employees, teachers and students, also we developed and improved the IT’s services provided to beneficiaries.
We have achieved many benefits through these projects, including helping to achieve the future vision of the government to integrate the education sector; bringing the advantages of technology to the development of education; using technology to provide the Ministry services in easy and simple way; and helping teachers and employees of the Ministry to get the service they need electronically.
The Ministries of Education and Higher Education merged in 2015, what was involved from the IT side in the merger of the two ministries? Was this a difficult task?
Information technology was the first merged department in the Ministry of Education, and we have contributed in a direct form to facilitate the integration of other sectors of the Ministry as well as the unifying of systems and technical services provided to employees.
The merger was not an easy task, and went through difficult stages. The right decision was taken to serve the Ministry and the education sector’s interest as a whole.
How is the Ministry supporting Vision 2030?
The Ministry of Education, as all ministries, is working to achieve the government’s Vision 2030, as the basis of the Vision is change, which starts from education, including general education to learn the objectives that must be achieved by 2030, as well as the higher education graduating human capital needed to achieve our government Vision 2030.
Do you have any specific IT programs to help deliver the National Transformation Plan 2020 goals?
Actually, we have three specialized programs to support the national transformation program. These are the development of platforms for e-learning to serve general education, higher education, and professional training; the development of the universities services that serve universities, students, government and private sectors; and contribution to the development of a unified hospitals managing system to be used in universities hospitals.
In addition, we are contributing in the technical side to most of the initiatives provided by the Ministry of Education.
What other ICT projects will you be working on in 2017?
Unification of all common processes (such as Change Management, Service Management and Quality Management) between both General Education and Higher Education Departments project; Development of MoE Services Catalogue and Process Manuals project; ISO9001 & ISO20000 / ISO 23000 project to fulfil future requirements by Yesser; deployment of Enterprise Architect methodology (EA) at MoE IT General Departments to fulfil future requirements by Yesser; developing the MoE’s new IT Planning Strategy project; and participating in the major NTP projects (LMS, HIS & Jameah System).
Does the Ministry have any projects in e-learning or smart learning?
Yes, the Ministry of Education is working on this project, and as I mentioned earlier, we are working on a major initiative to gradually achieve this goal in the coming years.
How does the Ministry IT team work with the stakeholders in education?
The IT department works within the concept that we are the services provider for the education sectors, according to what they need, taking into consideration recent technical standards to provide the service optimally.
How do you ensure that the Ministry stays informed and up-to-date with new technology?
We determine the MoE needs, assess current available technology within the organisation, and rank our priorities and define resources. We also work with resources, including, but not limited to utilization of current research firms such as Forrester, Gartner and IDC; attending technology conferences and Yesser technology congress, and participation in technology online webinars. We also publish quarterly technology report to the organisation on a regular basis, and we conduct quarterly seminars where international analysts and IT technology experts are invited to come to KSA and present to our IT team the latest in technology and answer any questions our technical leadership may have.