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A student e-learning from his home. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: Parents in Abu Dhabi have asked for reduced workloads, more live sessions and flexibility with timelines as they support children with remote learning, a survey has found.

The survey was conducted by the emirate’s education sector regulator, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), and findings will soon be released in a letter to parents.

The note, which the Adek has also shared with Gulf News, reports that more than 25,000 private school teachers and education staff “are working tirelessly to maintain the continuity of learning while struggling with the same challenges” facing everyone at the moment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world in a matter of months and we are blessed to be in a country that reacted swiftly to keep up safe. Distance learning was not a choice, it was a necessity. [And] distance learning is not a downgrade from the education you aspire [to] for your children, it’s a show of triumph and resilience against adversity,” the Adek said.

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A copy of the the circular from ADEK Image Credit: Supplied

Remote learning implemented

Responding to the need for social distancing in order to limit the coronavirus outbreak, the UAE closed schools down on March 8 for a two-week spring break. Then, on March 22, schools across the country rolled out remote learning programmes, and these are set to continue into the new school term beginning April 5.

The Adek said “an action plan was set in motion in record time” but that it presented a learning curve for all. The authority also polled parents after the first week of remote learning, which ended on March 26.

Survey results

“Abu Dhabi parents are taking the challenges in stride thanks to the ongoing support of their schools and teachers, as more than 60 per cent reported that educators have been in close contact with them at least once, and often, more than twice daily. 70 per cent of parents [also] felt they received the educational and IT support they needed through a designated contact person in their school,” the Adek said.

More than half of all parents are also reportedly satisfied with the quality of teacher feedback.

“Parents who took the survey also requested to reduce the workload, to have more flexibility with timelines and more livestreaming of classes. We are continuously working with schools to facilitate solutions to address and resolve these needs,” the Adek said.

Fee adjustments

As Gulf News reported yesterday, the Adek has already urged school leaders to offer tuition fee discounts. In its later to parents, the authority said the decision to offer reduced fees or credit for the next academic year is at the discretion of private schools.

“We urge that some families will face financial constraints due to adverse circumstances. We urge you to reach out to your schools for resolution and assistance. It is important to note that the main costs of a school go to teaching staff who are essential to your child’s education and the success of the school,” the Adek letter said.

“[Teachers] remain committed, and are working overtime across the entire week (weekend included) to formulate the lessons while adjusting to a new method of teaching and addressing new challenges that arise. The remaining cost goes to maintaining IT infrastructure, school premises and the additional support staff who are an integral part of the school community,” it added.

The authority oversees about 200 private schools, which enroll the majority of students in the emirate. These institutions offer learning in 15 different curriculums, including British, American, Indian, International Baccalaureate, UAE Ministry of Education, Pakistani and Filipino.

The Adek has also said that “current times require compromises on both the part of private schools and parents”.

“Paying your fees ensures that your children’s school remains resilient and can continue to sustain learning for all students,” the letter explained.

Parents can meanwhile continue to contact the Adek to report concerns on a dedicated hotline, +971563771833.

“We are confident that this situation is temporary and will come to an end,” the Adek reassured.