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1. Terminology

2. Technology laws, policies, plans and regulations

2.1. Education technology legislative and policy framework

2.2. Technology infrastructures, technological capacity of schools and learning environments

2.3. Technology competencies of learners and teachers

2.4. Cybersecurity and safety

3. Governance

3.1. Institutions in charge of technology in education and coordination mechanisms

3.2. Roles of schools


1. Terminology

The 2001 Telecommunications Act defines “Telecommunication services” as “transmission of signals via wired or wireless devices, including the radio, television, and internet”; the act also refers to the term “telecommunication technology”.  

The 2021 Licensing Regulations for eLearning and Training Programs of the National e-Learning Center (NELC) defines “eLearning: Using educational, information and communication technologies to enhance the efficiency and control the quality of learning and training modalities.” 

The 2020 Academic Accreditation Standards for E-Learning and Distance Education Institutions and Programs published by the Saudi Education & Training Evaluation Commission (ETEC) defines the following: 

  • Online Learning: involves an internet connection and may include face-to-face encounters using technologies such as virtual seminars, lectures and meetings, along with employing online learning techniques (such as online curricula or conference applications).  
  • E-Learning: the use digital tools for teaching and learning, such as the technologies used to facilitate learning processes. It can be carried out through the Internet, or within the usual classrooms without having to connect to the Internet.  

  • Distance Education: the provision of learning opportunities to students in all locations. Instructions and directions are provided to students in distance locations from those of the teaching faculty. This pattern is not limited to online learning or e-learning as it uses multiple alternatives, (such as exchanging letters and publications, worksheets, manuscripts and reports, and telephone and e-mail communication). 

The 2022 Telecommunications and Information Technology Act defines “Information Technology” as “technologies, software, systems, networks and any related processes for creating, compiling, securing, processing, storing or analysing data or information, including communications and information technology applications.” The Act defines the following: 

  • Digital Transformation: Strategic reorganization based on data, information technology and communications networks.  

  • Emerging technologies: technological innovations/inventions which represent a progressive step in a given field and achieve a competitive advantage over existing technologies. 

  • Digital Government: Supporting administrative, organizational and operational processes within and between government sectors to achieve digital transformation, develop, improve and enable easy and effective access to government information and services. 

  • Technological know-how or technical knowledge/Identification: Any technological means of identifying resources, services or content accessible through the Internet. 

The 2023 ICT Sector Strategy refers to the umbrella term “digital culture” which includes “Digital Education”; however, it does not define it.  


2. Technology laws, policies, plans and regulations

2.1. Education technology legislative and policy framework

Constitution and laws: Although there is no Education Act, Articles 13 and 20 of the 1992 Basic Law of Governance Saudi constitution state that “Education shall aim to instil the Islamic creed in the young, impart knowledge and skills to them, and prepare them to be useful members in the building of their society, loving their homeland, and taking pride in its history” and “The State shall provide public education and shall be committed to combating illiteracy”. 

The 2001 Telecommunications Act was issued to develop the infrastructure, promote digital transformation, stimulate the use of ICT services, make use of them in all areas, and promote innovation, entrepreneurship, research and technical development in the ICT sector. This act also aims to develop subsectors and emerging technologies, introduce new ICT services, protect the user and his interests, and raise his level of confidence, by providing secure and reliable ICT services, protecting against malicious content and keeping communications confidential. The telecommunication act established the “Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC)” which oversees the implementation of the Act. 

Article 2 of the 2022 Telecommunications and Information Technology Act stipulates that it aims to “promote digital transformation, stimulate the use and utilization of ICT in all sectors”. This Act repealed the 2001 Telecommunications Law by broadening the scope and focus from telecommunications to include new forms of technology and digital services to promote Saudi Arabia's digital transformation, innovation and technological development. The CICT remains the main authority implementing the 2022 Act. 

Policies, plans and strategies: The 2030 Saudi Vision aims to identify the general directions, strategies, policies, goals, and objectives of the Kingdom to diversify the economy of Saudi Arabia and one of the strategies is to lead the digital economy by adopting a cross-sectoral reform with education in the forefront. To achieve Vision 2030, thirteen Vision Realization Programs (VRPs) were established with a renewed five-year plan for each. For example, the 2016 National Transformation Program (NTP) has targets for 2020 across 24 government bodies including the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT). The strategic objective of the NTP is to bridge the digital gap in the skills of ICT users, develop the IT sector, shift to digital education to support student and teacher progress, and provide digitization and GIS information system in the education sector. The Human Capability Development Program (HCDP), aims to improve the country’s education system to meet the needs of a modern knowledge-based economy by developing a resilient and strong educational base for the population.  

The 2020 Digital Economy Policy aimed to push government agencies, according to their competences and regulations, to enhance the role of the digital economy in KSA in order to achieve diversified and sustainable economic growth and create competitive advantages and in education It aims to “promote digital culture and equal educational opportunities for all to ensure effective and productive participation of all members and segments of society in the digital economy”. 

The 2023 ICT Sector Strategy vision is to “build tomorrow’s digital foundations for a connected and innovative Saudi Arabia” and one of its aims is to “improve equity of access to education especially in rural areas”. 

The National e-Learning Center (NELC) main objective is to lead digital transformation in education. Commissioned and coordinated by NELC, the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) published studies on the impact of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia. Phase I of the study 2021 State of Online Learning in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supported the refinement of the NELC Evaluation Framework and Phase II 2021 K-12 Online Learning in Saudi Arabia stated that 70 new initiatives were implemented after the first phase of the study. 

Digital competency frameworks: The NELC resources and eLearning Evaluation Framework were developed according to a study of international standards, beneficiaries’ opinions, workshops for educational officials, and local and global experts in online learning which led to the production of 2021 Criteria for Excellence in Online Learning K-12 , 2021 General Criteria for Excellence in Online Learning, and the 2021 Online Learning Standards for Public Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  

The 2018 National Framework For Public Education Curricula Standards lays out the standards of educational curricula by integrating technologies into the content of the learning areas and utilizing technology in teaching and learning. 

The 2020 Academic Accreditation Standards for E-Learning and Distance Education Institutions and Programs published by the Saudi Education & Training Evaluation Commission (ETEC) aims to provide “an account of the e-learning and distance education quality assurance and accreditation standards to be applied to all post-secondary education programs offered across all types of e-learning or full or blended distance education, whether they are applied at the level of the program or for one or more of its courses.” 

Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The 2020 Saudi MOE Leading Efforts to Combat Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) publication demonstrate that on March 8, 2020, distance learning became mandatory for all K–12 institutions and attendance was suspended at all public and private educational institutions. Following the decision, MoE formed a high committee to track the shift to online education. 

The 2021 State of Online Learning in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia report of the NELC and OLC demonstrates that the education sector in Saudi Arabia had experience in online learning before the pandemic and that it only accelerated its full adoption and development. Additionally, the World Bank (WB) report 2022 Saudi Arabia's Digital and Distance Education: Experiences from the COVID-19 Pandemic and Opportunities for Educational Improvement emphasizes the fast rate digital and distance education was rolled out across the country. The Kingdom responded to the pandemic by following an education continuity plan, developing online platforms, e-Content, open educational resources, video lessons through YouTube channels, and satellite TV for K-12 during the 2020-2021 school year. Upon the eventual return to school, schools implemented hybrid learning.  

2.2. Technology infrastructures, technological capacity of schools and learning environments

2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools

Electricity: The 2001 Telecommunications Act defines “Universal Access” by “Providing all users in the kingdom to minimum telecommunication services of minimum quality within a specific geographic range and at a reasonable price”. 

Computers and devices: The 2020 Saudi MOE Leading Efforts to Combat Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) reports that “Takaful Foundation” with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) provided tablets, sim cards with internet. laptops, and desktop computers for students in need to use for their e-learning. 

Internet connectivity: The 2006 Universal Access and Universal Service Policy aims to provide ICT services to all segments of society “individuals” and “100% of the population” to promote greater social equity and inclusion. Its goal includes “achieving universal internet access”. The policy directs the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) to issue a decision to establish the Universal Service Fund (USF). The USF prepares its strategic and annual operating plans, including the programs and projects that will be implemented to provide internet services.  

The 2013 Schools Connectivity project was launched by the MOE and the MCIT to connect remote schools to internet via satellite and enhance internet capacity in schools with low connection to ensure that all schools are connected to the MOE through the internet.  

The 2020 Digital Economy Policy states that “Digital infrastructure is the backbone of the digital economy. The Kingdom aims to make high-quality internet accessible to all sectors and segments of society across the Kingdom, at affordable rates, and in a dependable manner.” 

The 2020 Saudi MOE Leading Efforts to Combat Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) documented that in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the MOE provided free access to educational sites by listing their domains under the free access listings on all devices. The report also documents the initiatives and innovations the Kingdom accomplished.  

2.2.2. Technology and learning environments

The 2017 Council of Ministers decision No. 35 established the National e-Learning Center (NELC) to provide and to lead innovation, research, development, and realization of eLearning, online infrastructure and digital education.  

Digital Platforms Prior to COVID-19 were either modified or adapted to entirely new channels: 

  • According to the (WB) report 2022 Saudi Arabia's Digital and Distance Education, the National Education Portal iEN was originally developed in 2015 to provide and e-learning management system such as books, tests, assessments tools, guidelines, lesson plans and recorded lessons to students, parents, teachers, supervisors, and school principals. It also includes “instructional design guidelines and a variety of educational games, videos, and content resources based on virtual and augmented reality and three-dimensional (3D) technology”.  

Virtual Kindergarten Application was provided for children from 3 to 7 years old. It was originally inaugurated in 2019 and leveraged for use during the pandemic. 

COVID-19 Platforms:  

  • On the first day of the school closure—iEN Satellite TV Educational Channels started broadcasting lessons to all students from their homes from 8 a.m. until 12 noon with rebroadcasts during the weekend. Each channel was allocated to a grade and track of the secondary school. It was followed by the iEN Satellite TV Lessons Channel on YouTube. 

  • Unified Education System ( virtual school platform launched a week after school closure.  

  • The Future Gate Portal ( was launched as a CMC tool for teachers and students in their interactive lessons. It is designed to provide a country-wide centralized Learning Management System (LMS) 

  • TAWASUL Yesser is a communication center that serves as a technical support to the learners’ journey in distance education. It receives inquiries, requests, and technical support issues from users of the Ministry’s Distance Education different platforms. 

  • Madrasti Platform the National E-learning platform and management system launched in 2020. 

  • The National iEN Gate is platform for interactive lessons, curricula, assignments, assessment batteries, and quarterly and final exams. Through the iEN National Education Portal digital content can be uploaded to the Madrasti Platform. 

  • SHMS is the National Open Educational Resource (OER) Platform developed by NELC for resources in Arabic for both K-12 and higher education institutions for online teaching and learning. 

2.3. Technology competencies of learners and teachers

2.3.1. Learners

The Ministry of Education (MOE) published the 2020 Student Guide to illustrate the procedures and operational models to be followed for distance learning. This shines light on the sources and mechanisms of e-learning and the optimal activation plans in each role. The Digital Government Authority also published the 2022 Distance Learning Guide to support parents and students. 

The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Project for General Education Development, also referred to as the Tatweer Project 2007-2023 aims to integrate ICT skills in the school’s curriculum through an ICT competency framework to support the 2030 Vision and National Transformation Program strategies for skill development and ICT integration within the education system in Saudi Arabia. The project “Curriculum Development Programme” aims to integrate technology into education.  

Regarding Science technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the curriculum, the MOE produced the 2018 Saudi Early Learning Standards (SELS) for early childhood education to provide teachers and parents with the best practices for application through seven standards that include elements of STEM. In addition, the 2020 Saudi National Curriculum Framework for early childhood reaffirms that cognition and academic knowledge areas of mathematics, science, and technology is one of the main guiding principles for the SELS.  

Early childhood frameworks, STEM programmes are generally linked to university programmes or general skills programmes targeting all ages with no specific mention of females in schools. The 2019 MCIT Annual Report mentions that the Saudi Digital Academy (SDA) aims to increase “further efforts and coordination to introduce digital and coding skills in elementary school with the aim of developing digital skills at an early stage of education.” 

2.3.2. Teachers

The Tatweer Project project offers “Teachers' Rehabilitation Programme” to provide teachers with ICT skills and expertise to be employed in their teaching areas. 

The 2018 National Framework For Public Education Curricula Standards links ICT with the design of the curriculum. It “paves the way for building a system of standards that specify what the learner should learn, understand, and be able to do. The standards should contribute towards guiding the education sector to focus on the quality of its outcomes, designing diverse educational resources, and determining desired aspects of teacher professional development and programs for teacher training.” 

The National eLearning Center (NELC) provides training on online teaching and learning to all public and private institutions including “universities, colleges, training centres, schools, centres, online platforms, academies” that provide e-learning programs so they can meet the standards and goals. The initiatives aimed to promote digital and technology-enabled teaching and learning in schools and raise teachers’ and students’ digital skills.  

The 2022 UNESCO case study of Saudi Arabia on its national distance learning programmes in response to COVID-19 reports that the MOE’s official training institution, the National Center for Professional and Educational Development (NCEPD), provided 428,000 training for teachers to support the transition to distance learning and digital tools after school’s closure. The WB 2022 report on Saudi Distance Education shows that the training concentrated on using remote learning tools and fundamental online teaching techniques to improve teachers' digital literacy and abilities as well as to increase educators' awareness of successful pedagogy “When Madrasati was launched at the beginning of the 2020 academic year, all users were provided with training to assist them to engage with it effectively. Subsequently, educators were provided with various professional development opportunities. Examples included training sessions on cyber security, digital assessment methods and tools, and student engagement techniques.” 

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) developed the Future Skills Programme to provide and support training in all digital areas; however, the programme does not mention anything about schools, teachers, and students. 

2.4. Cybersecurity and safety

2.4.1. Data privacy

Article 40 of the 1992 Basic Law of Governance, the Saudi constitution mentions that “Correspondence by telegraph, mail, telephone conversations, and other means of communication shall be protected. They may not be seized, delayed, viewed, or listened to except in cases set forth by the law.”  

The 2007 Anti-Cyber Crime Law aims at combating cybercrimes by identifying such crimes and determining their punishments. Article 3 of the law includes “Spying on, or interception or reception of data transmitted through an information network or a computer without legitimate authorization; unauthorized access to threaten or blackmail any person to compel him to take or refrain from taking an action, be it lawful or unlawful; unauthorized access to a web site, or hacking a web site to change its design, destroy or modify it, or occupy its URL; invasion of privacy through the misuse of camera-equipped mobile phones and the like; defamation and infliction of damage upon others through the use of various information technology devices.” 

The 2020 Children and Incompetents’ Privacy Protection Policy establishes the legal framework for safeguarding children's rights and defending them when their data is collected and processed in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The policy applies to all private, public, and non-profit entities that collect children’s data manually and electronically. 

The 2020 Usage and Privacy Policy for Madrasti Platform published by the Ministry of Education document aims to help users of the Madrasti platform (teachers, educational supervisors, school leaders, administrative staff, and students) to protect and preserve their data and to build positive behaviour while using the platform “the Ministry of Education is committed to protecting the rights of all users of their different categories in the Madrasati platform in private and government schools. We are committed to maintaining the confidentiality of sensitive information”. 

The 2021 Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL) is intended to protect "personal data," which includes any information that could be used to directly or indirectly identify a person including their name, ID number, home and cell phone numbers, as well as any photos and videos of the person. The privacy policy and procedures is governed by the PDPL, the 2020 National Data Governance Interim Regulations issued by the National Data Management Office (NDMO).  

Article 23 of the 2022 Telecommunications and Information Technology Act stipulates that the service provider must make all necessary preparations and measures to guarantee the confidentiality of the person's private data and records and not release them without the latter's consent. If the user's information and documents have been compromised in any way, the service provider must notify the user right once and take the appropriate steps to protect them. 

2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying

Article 3 of the 2007 Anti-Cyber Crime Law encompasses online abuse and cyberbullying of natural or legal persons as a crime “Defamation and infliction of damage upon others through the use of various information technology devices”. The law also criminalizes those who gain access to a person’s computer without their consent “Unauthorized access to threaten or blackmail any person to compel him to take or refrain from taking an action, be it lawful or unlawful”. 

One of the main goals of the 2020 Children and Incompetents’ Privacy Protection Policy is to assist competent bodies in protecting children from potential risks – violence, abuse, assault, threat, abuse, or exploitation - resulting from the collection and processing of their data on websites and digital apps. 

The 2020 Digital Behavior Guide aims to promote and build positive attitudes among students who use accredited online platforms. It provides a control reference for students' digital behaviours in the use of technology in general and use in e-learning in particular and provides the right practices to optimize the possibilities of educational platforms for e-learning in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This document applies to all users of e-learning platforms from teachers, educational supervisors, school leaders, administrative staff, students of different categories, and parents. 

In order to educate parents and children about the dangers and risks that children may encounter in the digital world, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and the Digital Giving Initiative (Attaa Digital) have developed a novel initiative called Cyberbullying e-Learning courses for parents and children. 


3. Governance

3.1. Institutions in charge of technology in education and coordination mechanisms

The Ministry of Education (MOE) oversees education at all levels and leads the education policy of the Kingdom. The National e-Learning Center (NELC) has emerged under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education, as a leader, supervisor, and supporter of e-Learning programmes in education. The third article of the National e-Learning Center (NELC) regulation stipulates that its role lies in the development of regulations and quality standards in schools and public education institutions and to be a guide for quality control standards through licensing, training, and evaluation frameworks. The National e-Learning Center (NELC) is therefore the main authority that delivers Licenses for eLearning institutions in order to regulate and govern the online learning schema. It also trains and provides professional certificates to all public institutions including schools.  

The Studies and Consultation department of the NELC is responsible for eLearning resources, research, frameworks, guidelines, and assessments. The Saudi Education & Training Evaluation Commission (ETEC) evaluates the performance of schools, higher education institutions and training institutions according to the standards approved by its board. 

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) is in charge of providing internet infrastructure and connectivity. It collaborates with the MoE in providing access to connectivity in schools and remote areas during the pandemic and provides digital skills training. 

The Saudi Communications & Information Technology Commission (CITC) is the primary authority responsible for overseeing and enforcing digital transformation in various sectors in Saudi Arabia including Education.  

3.2. Roles of schools

The 2017 organizational guide for the rules of conduct and attendance for primary school students published by the MOE mentions that students who bring any form of communication technologies to school are considered to have committed second-degree violations.

The MOE forbids mobile phones in schools unless it is deemed necessary and in exceptional situations. 

Last modified:

Thu, 15/02/2024 - 11:54