Education Minister Prince Khaled Al-Faisal has launched a "smart class" initiative as part of wider efforts to overcome the shortage of schoolteachers in the Kingdom while improving the level of education. Tatweer Development Company, responsible for the implementation of initiative, said that it has begun the smart classes program in 10 middle schools in Riyadh, Zulfi and Jeddah. The announcement was made during a briefing to Prince Khaled Al-Faisal about the program’s operation and implementation at the company’s headquarters in the presence of a number of officials. The company said that the first experimental phase for the current year was started in three boys’ schools and four girls’ schools across all three cities this year with the first phase covering science and mathematics subjects. According to company officials, the results of this semester’s trial period have been encouraging, and a thorough study will be completed at the end of the year for further evaluation. The smart class program involves one supervisor, four teachers, four electronic studies and 20 smart classes, each equipped with the latest technology. The program virtually links studios and classrooms with a teacher based at the company’s headquarters. Students interact with the educator virtually, complete with all visual and sound systems, and lecture materials are explained using a virtual whiteboard controlled by the teacher. Teachers also use computers, scanners, and printers to send assignments and tests, as well as record lessons for students to access at a later time. In a related development, the Ministry of Education revealed that it has approved the leave program for teachers assigned to work in schools to cover for the teacher shortage on a full-time or part-time basis. The move, which will serve as an incentive, will allow teachers who are eligible to take leave after they have completed their teaching and have submitted the students’ results. On the other hand, exam supervisors will not be required to work during the leave period.