UAE Minister of Education Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi during a panel discussion at the World Governments Summit 2024 in Dubai on Feb 13
UAE Minister of Education Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi during a panel discussion at the World Governments Summit in Dubai on Tuesday Image Credit: X/@ahmad_belhoul

Dubai: Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based tutors will assist teachers, not dominate their roles as main educators, the UAE Minister of Education said at the World Governments Summit in Dubai on Tuesday.

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“A teacher is a role model. Never underestimate the role of a teacher in an education system,” said Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi.

Dr Al Falasi, who was speaking at a panel discussion titled ‘The Educational Crisis: How can Governments Nurture the Next Generations’, added: “We in the UAE are using Artificial Intelligence to support the teacher. At the end of the day, no matter what, the teacher is the core of an educational system.”

What AI will do

The Minister said the nation is using AI technologies only to take away administrative tasks from the teacher. “Whatever we can do to make a teacher’s job easier, is what we are taking. This is why the AI tutor has been designed to assist students left behind in their studies or who require additional academic support. That to me is how technology can support teachers. But if you asked me today whether it is technology versus teachers, I will always say teachers. They are the crux of the education system.”

Re-skilling is essential

Belhoul said the pace of innovation around the world is prompting the need for teachers to re-skill or upskill. “Different countries approach it in a different ways. In Singapore for example, the government takes the lead when it comes to re-skilling. They have their verticals all mapped out. They offer free vouchers that people can take. So they are a very hands on government and take this very seriously. In other countries it is completely personal and down to a person’s own choice to get the skills. We are at the phase where we need to raise awareness. Many people think that they are immune. But that is not the case,” he said.

Dr Al Falasi added: “Seven years ago, we spoke about automation. And we thought the less cognitive jobs would be obsolete. Now with the generative AI, we are talking about the cognitive abilities of an individual. Nobody is immune to reskilling.”

He said the UAE government has sought a programme four years ago that talks about skills of the future.

“We know from here that there are hard and soft skills. So we are now changing the way we introduce social emotional learning in schools. I totally believe AI can make it more efficient.

“End of the day, as I said, a teacher is a role model. She [or he] brings the human element to the education system. We should never underestimate the value and the presence of a good teacher encouraging students. If you put them in front of the device all the time, it will only make them less inclined to continue education. We need to create a balance. The key is how much time can we free up to let the teacher do their job efficiently,” Dr Al Falasi.