How did TETEC become one of the largest private accreditation bodies in the country?
DR. OMAR M. BASODAN We have been working in the education and training sector for a long time. We selected a number of important qualifications that are needed for the market, particularly ICT and English qualifications. This approach gained acceptance in the market and also resulted in great cooperation with governmental entities. We have certified over 200,000 people in the ICT sector, including 35,000 government employees under the Yasser project. TETEC has also looked at the business models that are needed in the new challenging and demanding market, rather than just providing qualifications. Such a concept and business model is not well known in Saudi Arabia, though in the last few years, especially with the establishment of the Public Education Evaluation Commission (PEEC), people have started to realize the importance of standardizing qualifications.
How has TETEC's portfolio of programs in ICT, English, and other fields advanced so far?
OMB Although we started in ICT in 2010, we have since opened up other opportunities, firstly by becoming an open exam center for Cambridge English-language assessments. Now we are moving into other sectors. We have qualifications in education, health, and safety, and are also introducing more qualifications both for individuals and organizations in different areas that are of interest to the Saudi market. We study the market continuously for new opportunities, especially long-term opportunities. In the qualifications field, we need to be ahead of market trends so that we are well placed to meet demand when a particular sector picks up.
What role can TETEC play in driving the e-learning and distance education agenda in Saudi Arabia?
DR. JAMAL ALHEFDHI The digital era can introduce important tools to the education sector through different platforms for distance and e-learning. It makes it easier to have cooperation in the education sector, whether in formal education, through e-learning, or as an assistant through computer-based teaching. Digital technologies can provide a great platform for the standardization and delivery of different types of educational services. There are excellent efforts taking place in terms of introducing smart schools here. The Ministry of Education has started some initiatives along this line, though they are inadequate. The more effort we put into changing the education environment to a smart environment, the better the opportunities will be for the students, teachers, and even parents to participate in the education process. The more smart services are introduced into the education system, the better the performance, outcomes, and opportunities for education to reach new and different areas and offer the best education. TETEC now is a main Ministry of Education partner in providing online English learning solutions for its initiative #English_for_All. We also have a major project underway that is set to be completed in 2018 to introduce an e-learning platform for ICT qualifications so that people can study and do their exams online. We will expand this approach to other qualifications in the future. TETEC has also developed an exam engine that is an adaptive electronic testing system—one that can almost be used with any kind of subjects and any type of questions. It will help with the digitalizing of all forms of education and training assessments in the market.
How does TETEC envisage growing its services and presence in Saudi Arabia?
OMB We have more than one strand in our vision for growth at TETEC. One approach is that we look at the important areas that still need qualifications and we tackle them, even if they are new areas to us. Furthermore, our goal is to increase the number of mass qualifications we work with, as opposed to niche qualifications. Another goal TETEC has is to grow vertically to become one of the biggest awarding bodies in the country. We also want to tackle the needs of the business sector in Saudi Arabia.