education

Minister: Schools must ensure minimum level of learning outcomes

Both public and private schools must help raise the standard of education in the UAE, Hussain Al Hammadi says

17:24 October 7, 2017
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Abu Dhabi: Within two years, schools across the UAE must ensure a minimum level of learning outcomes among their students, a top education official said in the capital on Saturday.

“We have standardised the public school curriculum this year, and the goal now is to raise the standard of education across public and private schools. This is why all schools, regardless of curriculum, must ensure that every student reaches a basic level of learning,” said Hussain Ebrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education.

“Schools will have a two-year grace period to meet this requirement,” he said, adding that differentiated learning should be provided at schools so that every child is able to meet core learning objectives.

Al Hammadi was speaking on the sidelines of Qudwa 2017, a two-day teachers’ forum in the capital that aims to enhance education by empowering teachers. It is being attended by nearly 900 education professionals from across the world.

Last month, the UAE’s Ministry of Education worked with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Education and Knowledge to unify the public school curriculum across the country. This means that students enrolled from kindergarten to Grade 11 now follow the ministry’s Emirati School Model, which prioritises innovation in learning and critical thinking.

According to official statistics from the ministry, the UAE also has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, and its illiteracy rate has been less than one per cent since 2014.

The minister also addressed the audience at the opening session of the forum, calling upon teachers to integrate technology with classroom teaching.

Technology in classroom

“We need to leverage technology in the education system, similar to its use in other sectors of the economy. For example, in aviation, pilots can learn through flight simulations which not only make it less costly but also make the learning process easier. While in classrooms, virtual labs can be provided inside tablets, providing knowledge through a network to help grow and promote children’s abilities,” Al Hammadi said.

To that end, many schools in the UAE are implementing programmes to transform classroom learning through the use of technology.

“Virtual reality, for example, can be easily implemented in schools [for teaching purposes]. We recently tested it in a few schools, and found that it allowed some students to learn in one year what an average student would absorb during a two-year period,” Al Hammadi said.

This also reflects international findings that learners are able to recall, on average, only 10 per cent of what they read and 20 per cent of what they hear, but 90 per cent of what they do themselves, even if it is through a simulation.

“Of course, there are some countries that have the financial capabilities to use these modern technologies, and there are those that cannot. In the UAE, we are therefore trying to find ways to reduce the costs of technology use through the development of software and programming,” he added.

Al Hammadi also highlighted that teachers across the UAE can opt to attend training and professional development at 109 designated schools that will function as hubs for learning.