Learning outside schools gains traction in Dubai
The part-time schooling project, called Rahhal, is expected to revolutionise the education sector in the emirate.
The traditional style of teaching and learning in Dubai is becoming outdated as new disruptive ways take the lead. The part-time schooling project, called Rahhal, is expected to revolutionise the education sector in the emirate as it allows students to focus on getting a head start in their careers instead of spending long hours in school.
Khaleej Times covered the story of two Dubai pupils who are part of the Rahhal project and are travelling around the world - missing more than three months of school this academic year - to compete in sports tournaments. They make up for their schoolwork and exams whenever they are in Dubai.
Currently, only two schools - The Indian High School and the Delhi Private School Dubai - have formally joined the project, which was launched by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) earlier this year.
However, the chief of creativity, happiness, and innovation at the KHDA, Hind Al Mualla, said several other schools are expected to join.
"Within the pipeline, a number of other schools are going to join as soon as they reach an agreement with the parents. Once they join, we will make it public on our website, listing the schools that are offering Rahhal," Al Mualla said.
"The Indian High School joined because they wanted to create an opportunity for their students to learn outside the school. This particular case is for sports coaching and joining tournaments. Now, the Delhi Private School joined for a completely different reason. They think one of their students will gain more value by learning outside their school."
But how do schools and the KHDA ensure that students are not misusing the leniency the programme offers them?
The school and the student's parent will have to agree on the specifics of the programme; for example, how many school days a child can miss or how they can make up for the exams and schoolwork. The KHDA, however, remains as the governing body that will ensure relevant checkpoints are built for the proper usage of Rahhal.
Al Mualla said: "What we make sure of is that when the child comes back to the school, the school must have designed a kind of assessment indicating that the child did acquire the knowledge to move from point A to point B. From our level, we ensure that these checkpoints are built in. In a couple of months, we are planning to do a review and invite all students, schools, and parents to share their reflections. It will be a good opportunity to see how Rahhal is going and drill down into the details.
"Today, Rahhal is mainly focusing on cases, but we are in a dialogue with some schools, tackling possible disruptions on a school day or week of a batch of students rather than an individual."
Rahhal was launched as part of the 10X Dubai Future Foundation initiative, which aims to take Dubai 10 years into the future within two years. The director-general of the KHDA, Dr Abdulla Al Karam, had earlier said: "We are taking a big leap away from the traditional model of education and experiencing the future of learning.
Rahhal is all about giving students a chance to experience their full potential and benefit from learning both within and outside the school. This marks a milestone for everyone working in the education sector." Pupils weigh traditional subjects against practical experiences
Dhanvi Sayani, a student at Gems Our Own English High School in Dubai, believes both traditional subjects and practical experiences are important; however, on-field learning is becoming more relevant as the world advances technologically.
"Both traditional subjects and real-life work experiences are important; but in today's era, gaining work experiences - based on one's career choices - during school hours is more helpful. This is because these experiences give students a glimpse of the corporate world and a general feel of work life," Sayani said.
"It helps us choose our stream easily, since we have already gained experience in a profession we're interested in. It gears us up for the future and helps us be more prepared for it." "Traditional subjects only help us know things theoretically, while internships help us use our knowledge and skills practically," she added.
Saanvi Masalia, a student at the Ambassador School in Dubai, said traditional subjects are essential in the early years of education. She said it helps students understand the careers they may want to pursue as they grow older.
"I believe that in the initial years, exposure to the traditional subjects will give students a clear understanding of various fundamental concepts, which will enable us kids to assess our areas of interest. The lessons in various subjects should encompass its practical application as well," Masalia said.
"Hands-on work experiences can either be integrated during the school hours or given as holiday assignments. This will equip us with the soft skills required to make the best career choice for ourselves."