Dubai, UAE, 10 August 2020 – Colliers International, The Global Commercial Real Estate Leader, released its latest in-depth white paper on the K-12 education sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Colliers Education Team surveyed over 130 Group of Schools / Individuals, from 21 cities / townships across the Kingdom to understand their perspective on the challenges the sector is currently facing, including the shift towards online learning, their response to those challenges and their outlook on the market for the Academic year 2020-2021. The paper combines real data with market sentiment to capture the current and future impact of COVID-19.
K-12 education is one of the key sectors effected by the COVID-19 pandemic which has imposed a fundamental shift in the mode of delivery at schools from the usual face-to-face provision in a physical classroom to online learning module. This shift affected schools, teachers and parents in a variety of ways.
The survey identified ease of adoption to online learning in the Kingdom as challenging; 52% of all the teaching staff surveyed found the transition to online learning “Difficult” to “Very difficult” while 75% of parents found it “Very difficult”.
“This could be due to the sudden closure of schools and the shift to online learning, as schools, teachers and parents had to rapidly adapt to the change for the students to continue the academic year. We expect a hybrid learning model in 2020-21 and we expect that adaptation in 2020-21 should be better as both teachers and parents have more time to adjust”. said Mansoor Ahmed, Director of Education, Healthcare and PPP at Colliers International MENA region”.
On required new financial investment, nearly, 49% of respondents indicated that they had to make significant investments to make the shift to online learning, while only 20% indicated that the spend was insignificant.
For fee adjustments, approximately, 61% made full or partial refunds of pre-paid fees, while nearly a third (32%) made no refunds at all.
Mansoor adds: “The reason for not offering further refunds was identified by the majority of schools (52%) as; financial investments made by schools for the shift to online learning, schools limited ability to reduce their fixed operating expenses and non-payments of fees by some parents”.
Most school operators have very realistic expectations for the upcoming new academic year with 50% expecting a drop of at least 10% or more in enrolments.
Mansoor concludes: “The results of the survey indicate that the K-12 education sector in KSA, similar to many other countries, is significantly impacted by the pandemic. The full impact will only be seen once schools reopen at the start of the new academic year. This will determine how schools will operate, back to traditional schooling, a hybrid model or a total online learning approach. Operators and investors will need to revisit their operating expenses to be able to move through these challenges and begin on the road to recovery.”