Dubai: Community engagement is a new focus of schooling in the UAE, with professionals volunteering as guest lecturers in classes and field trips, the Minister of Education said during the Global Education Supplies and Solutions (GESS) show in Dubai on Tuesday.
Hussain Ebrahim Al Hammadi’s comments came during a ‘Ministerial Panel on Education Leaders’ at the annual GESS, being held till Thursday at Halls 5-8 at Dubai World Trade Centre.
Under the programme, professionals such as police officers, university professors, lawyers and others will be sharing their knowledge and experience with students, providing a window into the “real world” for students.
“There are some [professional] skills that can’t be provided in school — unless there’s engagement between the school and the community. Professionals can come and present a lecture to enrich students’ knowledge,” Al Hammadi said.
“I also call up on students and teachers to start thinking about volunteer work,” he added, saying the Year of Giving 2017 initiative provided a special opportunity for volunteerism.
This year, GESS is also hosting the Future Learning conference, which explores the challenges and opportunities presented by technology in education.
Speaking during the ministerial panel, Dr Ali Al Nuaimi, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Education Council, urged teachers to embrace technology, in spirit and in practice. He said, “The technology is coming to us, that’s a necessity, not an option … But if it doesn’t have buy-in from the leadership of teachers or ministers, the plans won’t be successful. The teachers must be convinced that such [technological disruptions] are something that must be undertaken.”
Al Nuaimi added that children today “can learn from anywhere”, referring to smart phones and the internet. “You can’t control students’ journey of learning nowadays; teachers aren’t their only source.”
He urged teachers to be tech-savvy and demonstrate high morals so they can inspire children to use smart devices in a positive way and take teachers as role models.
Tuesday’s ministerial panel also included Dr Majid Al Nuaimi, Bahrain’s minister of education.
GESS 2017 is featuring innovative content for educators of all levels, more than 130 speakers, over 200 conference sessions and 550 exhibiting companies from 39 countries. Entry to the event is free of charge.