The importance of the conference comes from the unprecedented turning point in the history of educational institutions in the world. They were forced to resort to distance education during the period of closures imposed by governments after the COVID-19 pandemic spread, to preserve the lives of people. This, in turn, created a new reality that will push the officials into reconsidering the philosophy of education, its goals, systems, methods, educational curricula and activities. Islamic education at the pre-university and university levels is an integral part of this global reality and will be subject to all these changes.
Dr. Ali Rashid Al-Nuaimi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi-based World Muslim Communities Council, pointed out the importance of this conference, by the comprehensive and distinctive questions that will arise, such as how will the leaders of Islamic education respond to this new challenge? Does Islamic education have sufficient traditions regarding teachers and students to use the distance education system? Do Islamic education institutions that exist in limited societies have the necessary infrastructure for distance education? Are there flexible curricula, remotely implementable, with the help of technology?
He added that the conference will confront these problems and questions, by providing convincing, practical, procedural, actionable, and measurable answers with internationally accepted standards. So, the biggest challenge will be in the evaluation of methodologies, remote examinations, and their technological mechanisms, because the nature of Islamic education curricula cannot be reduced to digital means, as they depend always on memorisation, remembering, retrieval and practical skills, such as public speaking, intonation skills, and oral examinations. The challenge will be to evaluate the outcomes of Islamic education remotely, and yet remain consistent with international evaluation standards.
The discussion will contain themes including the possibility of finding approaches that can be implemented remotely and digitally; digitising of contents and its cost; the teacher who can implement distance education, and institutions that can train teachers; whether technological infrastructure is equal to all students; the possibility of teaching religious skills from a distance without direct interaction; the role models when losing a direct link between the teacher and the learner; the ability to rely on remote evaluation in religious issues and the danger of plagiarism, and how to control it within the existing value and ethics systems.
The conference also examines the Muslim societies need for educational institutions to develop curricula; modernising educational systems; providing an integrated system for digital and distance education; stimulating endowment; charitable and civil society institutions to contribute in developing Islamic distance education; and the need to activate the roles of quality institutions education, academic accreditation and assessment to ensure the quality of Islamic distance education.