Abu Dhabi: UAE schools could continue to offer a hybrid system of learning during the next academic year, and the decision will be made based on the public health conditions at the time, the UAE Minister of Education has said.
If a hybrid model is chosen, it will offer a blend of remote classes and face-to-face learning, catering to students’ academic and extracurricular skills, Hussain Al Hammadi added when addressing queries during a television interview.
In a tweet on Thursday, the Ministry of Education clarified that a decision on the form of learning chosen for the next academic year cannot be predicted now.
"The nature of schooling in the next academic year depends on the state of public health, and it cannot be predicted now. The matter will be decided based on the latest developments at the time, and it will prioritise the safety and wellbeing of students and educators," the Ministry tweet read.
“As a sector, education was greatly challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. But His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, [Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Seputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces] deemed the provision of food, medicine and education as priorities during this crisis, so we will leave no stone unturned to provide the best to our students,” Al Hammadi said in the interview earlier.
The minister added that it was in the process of developing training sessions to help parents and students adapt even better to hybrid learning, which is the future face of education. This form of learning will see some concepts taught using smart, virtual platforms and others delivered in the classroom.
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the UAE mandated distance learning for students of all ages last March, with students in some grades and schools finally returning to classes in person in September 2020. More and more students have returned to school premises since then, but many others are still continuing to opt for full distance learning a year into the pandemic.
Al Hammadi said the UAE’s public schools had already had a tested smart education system in place about three years ago. The system allowed students to keep up to date with their classes even when travelling.
“This is why it was possible for schools to make a smooth shift to distance learning when the pandemic broke out. Our teachers also received professional development to help them ensure learning outcomes during distance learning, and we have received very few complaints about the system, whether it be public schools or private schools,” Al Hammadi said.
Al Hammadi also thanked parents, who had worked to assist educators and allocated time and effort to ensure the success of a blended learning system for students.
“We have had many learnings from this pandemic, and remote learning is one these systems. As we go forward, we want to protect students’ skills, both academic and extracurricular, even if the mode of learning is virtual,” he said.