It was near perfect attendance in the UAE on Sunday, when more than 1.2 million students across the country logged in to their classrooms and warmly e-greeted friends and teachers all around.
The first day of e-learning in the UAE went off to a flying start — bearing testimony to the UAE’s swift and decisive action to shut down school and university campuses in the country as a precautionary measure during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.
A spirit of cooperation, mutual understanding and empathy from everyone involved is key to making e-learning an effective process
In many cases, decisive risk-control action will mitigate the development of a full-blown pandemic, and the UAE’s decision to switch to e-learning came way ahead of many other countries — who dithered about a decisive step even as cases of COVID-19 surged across their territories.
According to United Nations estimates, nearly 900 million children in 120 countries have been affected by closure of schools and universities to delay the spread of coronavirus — and these numbers will only keep rising as more countries are impacted by the killer virus. The disruption is unprecedented: in a matter of weeks, coronavirus has changed how students are educated around the world.
For the sake of our future
But for the sake of our future, it’s critical to remember — as said by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai — that it’s the campuses of schools and colleges that have shut down, not the process of learning and education.
“It is true schools were shut down, universities were closed but education will never stop. It is like health care, it will never halt whatever the circumstances,” Shaikh Mohammad said.
These changes are certain to cause a degree of inconvenience, and the sporadic technical setbacks. But everyone — students, teachers, parents — must embrace this new experience in the right spirit for e-learning to have a lasting impact and overcome any teething issues.
Students must take every lesson received online as seriously as a physical class. Teachers must approach their daily lessons and academic planning with the same intent. Parents have a vital role to play in making distance learning work — without their wholehearted support, it won’t be possible. A spirit of cooperation, mutual understanding and empathy from everyone involved is key to making e-learning an effective process.
With the death toll from coronavirus soaring globally, there’s no clear indication about how and when the pandemic will be under control. But what’s certain is that students must continue their journey of learning. Children and young adults are our future — and a world bereft of knowledge would be a dangerous place indeed.