• UAE Editorial

Mohammed bin Rashid looks forward to 'safe start' to school year




Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said that safety of students and teachers is top priority, adding that he is looking forward to a "safe start" to the school year for a million pupils across the country.


"We look forward to a safe start and in accordance with the best safety standards for more than a million students within the education system in the Emirates," Sheikh Mohammed said. "The UAE is well aware of the importance of smart learning as it invested earlier in the digital infrastructure. Distance learning will be integral part of educational system... This is the future," His Highness said.


"It is a joint responsibility between school and home to ensure a safe and secure educational environment," His Highness noted.


Sheikh Mohammed’s remarks came as he reviewed preparations for the new school year 2020-2021 and the various precautionary measures that will be implemented by schools amid the pandemic.


H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, were present during the presentation which was made by Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, and Jameela Al Muheiri, Minister of State for Public Education.


Al Hammadi and Al Muheiri explained the various safety protocols that will be implemented in schools across the country to ensure safety and well-being of students and teachers including maintaining social distance, wearing mask among other protocols.


Al Hammadi presented a plan for enabling educational institutions in the UAE to resume the 2020-2021 academic year while noting that students from all levels will have access to education, and the academic year will begin at pre-established dates.


The ministry’s proactive procedures for managing the education system, upon the directives of the UAE’s leadership, have created a modern vision based on offering smart solutions that will create a safe educational environment and achieve the desired outcomes for students, he added.


"Many scenarios were drafted based on available information on the overall health situation around the country and its effect on the education system, as well as on the best educational solutions to be adopted," Al Hammadi said, explaining that after extensive talks and consultations with relevant national authorities, the ministry decided to implement a hybrid model of learning.


He also pointed out that the ministry is keen to involve parents in the decision-making process and explore their opinions on the suitable education system they would like their children to pursue, therefore, they were allowed to choose between standard education and remote learning for the first semester.


The ministry performed a simulation of children’s attendance in schools to explore the challenges and opportunities for improvement, noting that the physical attendance of students in schools will be gradual, being 25 percent at the start of the year, then 50 percent, then 75 percent and finally 100 percent, under close monitoring.


Regarding higher education, Al Hammadi stressed that several meetings were held with officials from higher education institutions to discuss how to resume classes and adopt related mechanisms, noting that the current academic year will be a mixture of personal attendance in university campuses and remote learning.


Al Hammadi then pointed out that the plans to re-open educational institutions were made in coordination and consultation with relevant national authorities, including the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the Dubai Executive Council, the National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, NCEMA, the Council for Education and Human Resources, the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the health authorities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the Department of Education and Knowledge in Abu Dhabi, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai, the Sharjah Education Council and the Sharjah Private Education Authority.


Al Muheiri presented the plan for resuming private school education, noting that several operational models have been developed and each school can choose the ideal model approved by the ministry, which includes full-time attendance, part-time attendance, day and week shifts, and hybrid education.


Many protocols and procedures are in place for nurseries and childcare centres during the pandemic, in addition to preparations for education programmes via e-platforms for their workers, she added, while noting that NCEMA is currently considering the situation and will make the appropriate decision.


Al Muheiri then explained several measures implemented by the ministry to ensure the safety of students, noting that the opinions of parents, schools and private sector employers from schools and nurseries were surveyed, under the framework of assessing the situation of the private sector and drafting a suitable plan. wam


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