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Teachers at Haba Mumzworld stall during Gess Dubai event at DWTC on 25 FEB 2020 photo; Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News Image Credit:

Dubai: Homeschooling is rising in popularity, especially amongst students with niche interests or needs, UAE school principals told the GESS (Global Educational Supplies and Solutions) Dubai conference on Tuesday.

Speaking during a panel discussion on homeschooling, the principals said some children, such as those with special educational needs or “hyperactive” learners, do not feel as comfortable in the classroom.

“I’m sorry to say this but many schools shrug away children with special needs… Homeschooling is going to go way ahead,” said Dr Thakur Mulchandani, director and principal of Sunrise English Private School, Abu Dhabi.

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People at United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education stall during Gess Dubai event at DWTC on 25 FEB 2020 photo; Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

Factory of marks

Other children, who excel in certain subjects, sports or arts, feel unmotivated at school, which has become “a factory of marks”, said Pramod Mahajan, principal and director of Sharjah Indian School.

The panelists were speaking in general terms, not specific to any school or country.

“We [schools] also need to think about what the child wants to learn and when he or she wants to learn. But no one does that; we’re just administrating tests and finding the ‘fault’ within the child,” Mahajan said.

Mental hurdles

He added that the “thought process” of regarding homeschooling as inferior to traditional schooling remained “a hurdle” amongst many educators, even though many successful leaders have been homeschooled or even self-taught.

Mahajan praised Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) for “granting licensing for homeschooling”.

He also rejected the idea that homeschooling makes children less social as they don’t spend time with other children.

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Students learning about Benmaker at Atlab Stem Academy stall during Gess Dubai event at DWTC on 25 FEB 2020 photo; Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

Real-life learning

“There are lots of restrictions and there is no flexibility at school. With homeschooling, children can study from real-life case studies because there is more time for real-life experiences, for experiential learning,” Mahajan said.

Mulchandani agreed that “learning doesn’t happen inside four walls”, saying homeschooling, as well as outdoor activities, will have “a big say in education in the coming years… it won’t replace schools but a massive number of students will opt for homeschooling”.

Personal attention

He added that homeschooling also fills the gap experienced by drop-outs. The personal one-to-one attention of a private or online tutor provides support for some students who don’t conform to the “one size fits all” school system.

The session included panelist Pratima Sinha, CEO, DSR Educational Society (India) and was moderator by Husein Dohadwala, Academic Director, Fazlani L’Academie Globale (India).

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His Excellency Hussain Bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, the UAE Minister of Education while inaugurating the Global Educational Supplies and Solutions (GESS) exhibition in Dubai on Tuesday.

GESS gets underway: UAE to ensure smart tech, high morals in schools

Multiple goals for the UAE’s education sector, as part of a wider 50-year national agenda, were outlined on Tuesday during the ‘GESS Dubai’ conference and exhibition.

Speaking at the three-day event’s official opening at Dubai World Trade Centre, Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, said: “The UAE is planning to almost double its investments in kindergarten enrolments as the initial phase of life play a crucial role in shaping the personality of the students and their future.”

His comment followed an earlier remark during the keynote that curricula, projects and research must continue to be provided through smart systems at schools and universities.

International focus

Another goal, the minister said, is increasing the high school graduation rate in line with international rates. At state universities, increasing the proportion of internationally accredited academic programmes is a target as well.

The education sector aims to ensure “all schools are distinguished by leaders and teachers, all of whom are licensed to international standards, and that our students are fluent in the Arabic language”, Al Hammadi said.

The ministry’s curriculum, taught mostly in Arabic with the exception of some subjects in some grades, is followed by all public schools, in addition to some private schools.

Al Hammadi added that schools must produce Emirati graduates who are capable of entrepreneurship as well.

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( L TO R) Husien Dohadwalla,(moderator) Academic Director Faziani L'Academie Globalel, Dr.Thakur Mulchandani,Director and Principal Sunrise High School Abu Dhabi, Ms. Pratima Sinha CEO, DSR Educational Society and Pramod Mahajan, Principle Sharjah Indian School in the panel discussion during Gess Dubai event at DWTC on 25 FEB 2020 photo; Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

High-profile show

GESS, or Global Educational Supplies and Solutions, is now in its 13th edition in Dubai.

Among the high-profile guests who attended Tuesday’s opening were Dr Majed Bin Ali Al Nuami, education minister of Bahrain; Tarek Shawki, education minister of Egypt; and Dr Damir Sehovic education minister of Montenegro.

The event, which is set to witness more than 50 product launches, covers a broad spectrum of products and solutions - from gadgets and devices to learning solutions, as well as a traditional school, lab equipment and learning gears.

GESS Dubai is also hosting over 300 free of charge and CPD-certified workshops and presentations from world-leading experts in education, technology, leadership and training, neuroscience and others, said the organisers.

Addressing GESS Dubai, Saudi education minister Dr Hamad Bin Mohammad Al Shaikh said that there is a special focus on education in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

“Our goal for education is to become the profession of the future, produce change, reshape conceptions, build-up the minds of the youth on the basis of modern technology. Our aim is to encourage this generation and future generation to adopt the benefits of technology which impacts their lives,” he added.

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Students playing game at Palms Sports stall during Gess Dubai event at DWTC on 25 FEB 2020 photo; Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

‘Invest in humanity’

Gerd Leonhard, CEO of The Futures Agency, in his keynote, talked about ‘technology and humanity’ focused on future jobs, work and the future of education.

“Our biggest challenge is not that the machines will take over, but that we become too much like them… Invest as much in humanity as you invest in technology.”

Matt Thompson, project director, Tarsus, organisers of the event, said: “GESS, a UAE-based brand, has become so successful that we’ve expanded it to key education markets around the world.”

The show is being held in partnership with the Ministry of Education is also supported by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) as Knowledge Partner, among other regional supporters.