“The relationship between schools and pupils has traditionally been exclusive.
“Pupils can only go to one school, and schools can only teach their own pupils. That will change as more learning moves online.”
Brick-and-mortar schools, however, would be more important than ever as community hubs in the post-Covid world, said Dr Al Karam.
He said schools played a huge role in improving the wellbeing of individuals.
“When online learning can meet students’ academic needs, it will be the physical schools that meet the holistic needs of pupils that will really stand apart,” he said.
The expert said that technology had transformed almost all sectors of the economy, but it took a pandemic to change the structure of education.
Dr Al Karam said Covid-19 has changed people’s expectations of education.
In recent months, parents have been able to get a closer look at how their children learnt.
The education chief said schools that cost millions of dollars to build were only open for seven or eight hours in a day, and remained closed in the evening, during the holidays, and the summer break.
“The clever schools will be the ones that consider how they can use the changing dynamics to their advantage and the pupil’s advantage as they make their future plans,” he said.
Ashwin Assomull, head of LEK Consulting’s Global Education Practice, shared an update on the repercussions of the Covid-19 disruption on the sector during the Education Investment MENA conference.
He said the lockdowns in various countries had caused significant short-term disruption across private education sectors globally, with school operators facing challenges.
Mr Assomull forecast that the schools would not be adversely impacted by the disruption in the long run.
“K-12 (primary and secondary education) schools are ‘good as gold’ – due to their attractive characteristics as business models and the lack of credible digital alternatives that can replace these institutions,” said Mr Assomull.
Data from the United Nations shows the pandemic affected nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries, while closure of educational institutions impacted 94 per cent of the world’s pupil population.