The 2011 Cyber Crime Law defines “Information Technology” as “the scientific utilization of computers, electronics and communications for the process, dissemination of data and information in its different versions.”
The 52/2006 Royal Decree that developed the Information Technology Authority (ITA) defines “Information Technology” as “Electronic technology for dealing with information and data by automatically processing it to create, send, store, display, programme and analyse such information and data.”
The 10th Five-Year Development Plan (2021-2025) refers to “distance education” but does not define it.
The 2016 UNESCO Chapter on “Integrating ICT for innovative educational solutions in Oman: leveraging OER policy to enhance teaching and learning” states that “e-education under the Omani definition means enriching the national curricula, developing human resources in ICT in education, preparing e-schools to deploy technology in teaching and learning, supporting technological infrastructure and services, and developing the Educational Portal of the Ministry of Education.”
The Omani government portal refers to the term “digital transformation” but only in reference to government services and not education.
Constitution and laws: Article 8 of the 2023 Education Act issued by the 2023 Royal Decree No.31 states prioritizes the promotion and integration of technology in the field of teaching and learning. It emphasizes the need for the Ministry to keep up with technological developments and make technology an essential component at all stages of the educational process. A key focus of the article is on qualifying and training the Ministry's employees, particularly the teaching staff, to effectively utilize this technology to enhance and support the educational process. The overall goal is to leverage technology optimally in education to improve the quality of teaching, learning, and overall educational outcomes.
Article 16 of the 2021 Omani Basic Law of the State that abrogated the 1996 and 2011 Constitution stresses the priority and right to education “Education is the right of every citizen (….); Education is compulsory until the end of general education, and the State encourages the establishment of private schools and institutes under the State's supervision, in accordance with the provisions of the law” without referring to anything concerning technology in education.
The 52/2006 Royal Decree established the Information Technology Authority (ITA) with the vision to develop a “knowledge-based society and sustainable development”.
Articles 36 and 37 of the 2017 Ministerial Decision No. 287 of the Ministry of Education Regulating Private Schools in Oman, obliges schools to use safe modern IT systems to assure quality control measures and to create a web page for the school accessible to parents and students.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2020 Omani Vision was launched in 1996 to achieve sustainable economic diversification through Five-Year Development Plans. Through the “Human Resource Development” pillar, the vision included in its objectives the development of the sector of education and the generation and management of technological changes efficiently.
According to the 2016 UNESCO Chapter on “Integrating ICT for innovative educational solutions in Oman: leveraging OER policy to enhance teaching and learning”, the Omani government already started developing digital resources by 2008. The 2008 Digital Oman Strategy aimed to provide Technical support & Capacity Building Projects in all sectors including education. By 2013, it developed the Open Educational Resources (OER) policy in collaboration with UNESCO with the following objectives to be achieved by 2016: “Adopt open licences for curricula and textbooks; develop resources and tools and adopt open licence for the teachers; develop learning resources and adopt open licence for the students; make open-licensed professional development resources available through the Oman Educational Portal; make digital schools’ ICT devices and Internet connection accessible for OER practices”.
The 9th Five-Year Development Plan for 2016-2020 was the last plan of Vision (2020) and paved the way for the formulation of the long-term Vision (Oman 2040); it aims to create a “national strategy for innovation which is based on making innovation part of the school curricula, adoption of the new technology in the new projects”. The 9th Five-Year Development Plan and Oman 2040 Vision integrated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their policies and objectives.
One of the major national priorities of 2040 Oman Vision, alongside its 10th Five-Year Development Plan (2021-2025), is to create a high-quality educational system that can foster scientific research, innovation, and creativity to create a knowledge-based economy and society “to ultimately achieve inclusive and sustainable development”. The strategic objectives of the “Education, Learning, Scientific Research and National Capabilities” national priority include “Value-enforcing curricula consistent with the contemporary requirements of sustainable development and future skills”; “An effective national system that nurtures scientific research, innovation, and creativity to build a knowledge-based economy and society”, and “a system that empowers human capabilities in the educational sector”. The main strategic objective of the “Economic Diversification and Fiscal Sustainability” national priority linked to technology is an “Advanced base and IT infrastructure that empowers all sectors”.
The 10th Five-Year Development Plan (2021-2025) depends on economic diversification in all sectors including investments in integrated and distance education.
The 2040 National Strategy for Education was developed to act as a primary source for the policy development to reform and innovate the education sector through a series of five-year plans “The government aims at enabling education to achieve its objectives in spreading knowledge, using technology, encouraging research and innovation to produce enlightened generations capable of making a positive contribution to the country’s development and to engage effectively in the international arena”. Its objective precisely targets improving the information technology infrastructure in educational institutions and supporting the use of technology, e-learning, capacity building and infrastructure improvement in schools and higher education.
The 2019 Oman National Strategy Framework for the ICT Sector strategy report states that the ICT Vision aims to support the enhancement of the education system to foster suitable ICT talent.
The 2020 National Innovation Strategy is one of the national priorities for sustainable development that aims to contribute to a “high-quality educational system” and to develop electronic services through the Internet in all sectors.
The 2022 Reference Framework for the Use of Educational Devices in Schools of Oman strategy is to adopt blended learning and its framework on a ministerial level, to provide e-learning platforms for all grades, to digitalize all school curricula, and to create policies of digital education protection.
Oman is engaged in several initiatives to leverage technology in education and advance its educational system. The Ministry is at the forefront of a comprehensive digital transformation project, re-engineering procedures and transitioning them into a digital system to support both educational and administrative processes. Concurrently, efforts are being made to digitize electronic services for students, teachers, and guardians, while also updating platforms for improved efficiency and accessibility. The country is also developing an Executive Program for Artificial Intelligence, aiming to integrate AI into digital systems, educational technologies, and curriculum development. This initiative aims to enhance curricula by incorporating AI applications and providing educational staff with training in AI to strengthen their capabilities. Additionally, in collaboration with private sector institutions, the E-school project is underway, updating the educational technology system in schools to foster a conducive learning environment through improved information technology infrastructure. These collective endeavours signify Oman's commitment to embracing technology for the advancement of its educational landscape, fostering innovation and effectiveness in teaching and learning.
Digital competency frameworks: The 2021 Royal Decree established the Oman Authority for Academic Accreditation and Quality Assurance of Education (OAAAQA) that further developed the 2004 National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to become the 2022 Oman Qualifications Framework (OQF). One of the main objectives of the OQF is to assist in the identification of technological, professional and technical and vocational qualifications in all learning institutions including schools.
The National IT Training & Awareness Framework (NITTA) was created to develop ICT skills and digital literacy skills for government employees and citizens of Oman.
The 2022 Reference Framework for the Use of Educational Devices in Schools of Oman aims to conceptualize the specifications of technical educational devices that can be used in the educational process, lay out the procedures for the provision of educational devices and their maintenance, and identify training on technical educational equipment in schools.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The MOE closed all educational facilities in March 2020 till October 2020. Schools re-opened and resumed in the form of hybrid learning from November 2020 depending on the situation and location of the school.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The National Subsidy System offers electricity support to Omani citizens, but nothing is particularly mentioned regarding the access to electricity in schools.
Computers and devices: The 2022 Reference Framework for the Use of Educational Devices in Schools of Oman demonstrates that schools can obtain educational devices by filing an official request to be studied and potentially approved by the Ministry's General Office/Information Technology Department of the Educational Directorate.
The 2022 Reference Framework for the Use of Educational Devices in Schools of Oman encourages “bring your own device (BYOT)” policy, one device only, with the approval of the school.
Internet connectivity: The 2011 Telecom Act dedicated a section for “Universal Service” (Article 38/39) as it aims to “expand the telecommunications services and networks” and to “provide telecommunications services to persons with special needs.”
In response to COVID-19, the government launched Afaaq (Horizons) Initiative that delivered telecommunication and internet services to 598 villages and rural communities through satellites.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
Following COVID-19, the Oman Technology Fund (OTF) partnered with UNICEF to launch the COVID-19 Youth Technology Challenge to support innovative, tech-enabled platforms for online education, training and employment opportunities.
Since 2012, the MOE Digital Educational Portal has been available for interactive educational content, information on policies, and new projects concerning distance education for schools, students, parents, teachers, companies, and institutions.
In response to COVID-19, the MOE launched Mandhara Platform for grades 1-4 and Google Classroom Platform for grades 5-12. This was reinforced by dedicating Oman Mubasher Live TV and Oman Culture Satellite Channels to distance education lessons for grades 11/12. In addition to that, the MOE created a youtube channel “Mawred” to provide educational resources and materials for teachers and students.
The 2019 Oman National Strategy Framework for the ICT Sector strategy report states that the ICT Vision aims to support the development of digital capabilities by rendering them compulsory in the curriculum: Coding/programming courses will be obligatory up to grade 10 and selective in grades 11/12, basic ICT certifications will be offered for grades 11/12. The 2022 Reference Framework for the Use of Educational Devices in Schools of Oman has a section to guide students on the use of technological devices in schools.
The 2016 UNESCO Chapter on “Integrating ICT for innovative educational solutions in Oman” states the OER policy aimed to digitalize all curriculum textbooks and render them available through tablets, computers, and mobile phones.
In the curriculum, sciences and math are taught as essential subjects in school. In partnership with the MOE, the e-stemazone initiative was launched as a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) presential educational programme that eventually transformed into an online programme in English and Arabic for Omanis aged 7 to 15. No information in particular targets schools or female STEM education in Oman.
The Omani Curriculum Standards Framework Grades 1-9 aims to contribute to the attainment of future/ICT skills.
The 2019 Oman National Strategy Framework for the ICT Sector aims to enhance ICT teacher availability through direct funding for training.
The 2040 National Strategy for Education recommended implementing an initial training programme “teacher preparation programme” and establishing a “Specialised Centre for Professional Training of Teachers” to provide in-service training courses to develop teachers’ capabilities though nothing specific was mentioned concerning digital skills. The 2016 UNESCO Chapter on “Integrating ICT for innovative educational solutions in Oman: leveraging OER Policy to enhance teaching and learning” states that Information Technology Authority (ITA) conducts IT training for the ministries and Governorates through the Specialised Centre for Professional Training of Teachers but nothing specifically mentioned on school teachers.
The 2008 Digital Oman Strategy aimed to provide Technical support & Capacity Building Projects in all sectors and that included the “Government IT Training & Certification” implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Civil Services and the Ministry of Education to train civil staff of government institutions to qualify with international certifications in IT literacy. Although nothing is specifically mentioned about schools, civil staff members can refer to teachers working in public schools.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2011 Cyber Crime Law has been issued by Royal Decree No. 12/2011 to support the realization of a digital society and a completely e-enabled society in accordance with Oman’s national IT plan. The law dedicated Chapter II Article 3-10 to the “Violation of safety, confidentiality of data & electronic information and the informational systems”.
The 6/2022 Royal Decree promulgating the Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL) states that all personal data should only be processed with transparency, honesty and with express written consent from the data owner. The law applies to any type of personal data that makes a person identifiable directly or indirectly.
The 2022 Reference Framework for the Use of Educational Devices in Schools of Oman dedicated a section for security regulations for the use of educational devices in schools that protects data privacy and piracy.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The 2011 Cyber Crime Law does not explicitly mention online abuse or cyberbullying, but it does refer to the actions that refer to them. Articles 18 and 19 of the law applies to anyone who “threaten or extort a person to do or abstain from doing any act” and “any person who uses the informational network or the information technology facilities to produce or publish or distribute or purchase or possess whatsoever that might prejudice the public order”.
The 2014 Child Law prohibits violence against children in all settings, including schools.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) is responsible for school education management (Grades 1-12), creating educational policies, curricula, and textbooks as well as mechanisms for evaluating student performance. It aims to optimize educational and learning processes in school administration by implementing “technology to cope with Oman digital society”. The Ministry’s plan for technology and education was to develop the Open Educational Resources (OER) policy in collaboration with the Information Technology Authority and UNESCO. As for the Education Council – MOE now as it dissolved and merged within the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation by a Royal Decree in 2020) – it is responsible for drawing up general policies and supervising the implementation and evaluation of the education strategy. The Oman Technology Fund is a fund that invests in high-potential technology startups including those specialized in developing online education platforms that may be integrated into public schools.
In collaboration with the MOE, the Ministry of Information and Technology (renamed Ministry of Transport, Communication and Technology in 2020 by a Royal Decree) aims to contribute to developing the ICT curriculum in schools. The Information Technology Authority (ITA) connects all schools through the Internet and the Education ePortal to facilitate 24/7 accessibility to information, minimizing the digital divide in Oman. The ITA also addresses technological awareness and conducts IT training.
The 2007 Ministerial Decision No. 234 lays out the rules, laws and regulations that govern students' behaviours to ensure discipline in the school environment mentions that mobile phones are not allowed in schools or classes except if they are used for an educational purpose in a specific class.
This profile was reviewed with the support of the General Direcorate of Information Technology of Ministry of Education