Successful distance learning for 1.2 million students leveraging UAE futuristic vision: Hussain Al Hammadi
During the Digital Government Meeting, the UAE government asserted that the futuristic vision of the UAE’s wise leadership, the state-of-the-art technological infrastructure, and the flexibility to develop proactive solutions and keep pace with changes and emergencies, enabled a rapid response to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector and ensure the continuity of distance learning for more than 1.2 million students in the UAE, using modern technologies and applications, while maintaining the health and security of society under such exceptional circumstances..
Within the remote session, detailing the impact of COVID-19 on education, Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, discussed the means to enhance preparedness for the post-COVID-19 phase. More than 100 government officials, ministers, heads of federal and local government entities, ministry deputies, and general managers affiliated to federal and local entities participated in the meeting, contributing to developing the UAE’s position and enhancing its global leadership.
He pinpointed the importance of this meeting to follow up on the latest developments and work mechanisms developed by ministries and government entities to address the current situation and prepare for the post-COVID-19 phase. Al Hammadi hailed the national teamwork spirit and solidarity while reviewing the main pillars of responding to the COVID-19 impact on the education sector.
The Minister pointed out that the UAE adopted the necessary measures to complete the academic year through the smart learning system for 1.2 million students in schools and universities. "Enrollment rate reached 100% in the Emirati schools, including KG and private schools following the Ministry's curricula," he said.
He added that this emergency accelerated the transition to smart learning in the UAE. Some plans and programmes were scheduled to be introduced in the coming years, but COVID-19 accelerated their implementation, thus enhancing the country’s response. Smart e-learning platforms have been activated in the Emirati School, including all subjects, and with aligned curricula and plans.
He further stressed the importance of encouraging universities to adopt smart learning techniques and set new policies, frameworks and programs to support online learning. He added that the teacher’s role will change immensely in the next phase, which requires developing new training methods.
The Minister of Education stressed the need to enhance cooperation between the public and private sectors to boost education quality and efficiency in the UAE through exchanging data and successful experiences and involving the private sector in the training processes. "This would ensure continuous education in the private education sector in times of crises, in addition to encouraging students to join technical, applied and professional education, increasing enrollment rates to 50 percent of the total number of students, and improving the outputs of this system to build a sustainable knowledge-based economy that enhances performance efficiency in the next phase," he said.
Al Hammadi showcased the general impact of COVID-19 on education worldwide, which resulted in depriving 70% of the world's students, 1.26 billion students, from education. He mentioned the expectations in the education sector in the UAE as regards distance learning during the current academic year, highlighting that the method to be adopted next year depends on the health situation at that time.
He also focused on the global trends post-COVID-19 and their positive impact on the short term, such as integrating distance education as an essential part of the educational system to ensure seamless continuity of the academic year under all circumstances, enhancing teachers’ readiness and effectiveness and complementing their role with modern communications and distance learning technologies.
In the dialogue moderated by Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, Official Spokesperson of the UAE government and Assistant Undersecretary for Care and Activities Sector at the Ministry of Education, Al Hammadi stressed that education in the UAE has its peculiarities, as it encompasses more than 200 nationalities. Furthermore, it enjoys an integrated public-private system that supports the educational process and ensures that students receive the best education worldwide. He noted that cooperation in designing future education and creating a new system that supports the UAE’s leadership of this sector is a necessity.