K12 schools in the UAE are slowly becoming great examples of schools that are developing transferable skills and building character among students.
These institutions are supported by the UAE government, which has reportedly allocated Dh 5 billion to invest in state-of-the-art infrastructure for schools over the next six years, according to the Khaleej Times.
The UAE Cabinet, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, recently reviewed progress of the ‘Emirati School Model’.
This model is being implemented in 800 public and private schools across the UAE to “prepare generations capable of leading the future of the UAE”.
The aim is to address the needs of the job market “through a modern curriculum that offers different educational fields”, as well as focusing on recreational activities to ensure every area of student development is given fair attention.
Reflecting this, through the use of advanced technology and innovative teaching methods, UAE schools are fostering a learning environment that engages students and encourages them to think outside the box.
The UAE government is also making strides for the development of new modern vocational courses to attract more Emirati students as a part of the Emiratisation strategy.
Plus, the government is specifically focusing on developing more institutes for vocational training in order to fulfill the demand for skilled labor from industries, which is part of their mission for Vision 2021 and other plans focused on diversifying the economy.
According to the Gulf News, the education landscape in the UAE is evolving quickly with an increased emphasis on going beyond curriculum-based learning to the professional development of students.
Realising that today’s world is competitive, with a need for employees who are dynamic and adaptive, schools are adopting future-oriented learning and teaching techniques that can better prepare students for the workplace.
Jasmine Anand, COO of Springdales School, Dubai, said, “We are now more interested in the development of deep learning, which can have an impact on innovation, rather than cramming facts for a test that will have little relevance to the life-long experience of today’s students.
“Learning has moved from being teacher-centred to increasingly student-centred — from being ‘chalk and talk’ to flipped and blended learning — as IT and the internet have become increasingly integrated into the students’ learning experience.”
Thanks to the advancement of technology, schools are able to embrace innovative and interactive tools to encourage young students to pick up digital skills that will be useful for the future.
For example, Raffles International School (RIS) uses artificial intelligence (AI) as a platform to complement classroom teaching and learning.
Tim Richardson, Principal at Raffles International School (RIS), said, “Through our AI platforms, student profiles are developed in order to identify how each student can learn most effectively, and to address any ‘gaps’ they may have in their learning.”
Besides embracing technology, RIS also introduced BTEC courses last year to provide students with a study programme that closely links academics with the application of learning in a real world context.
The Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai (SISD) provides all students from Grade 4 onwards with access to Microsoft Cloud-based productivity tools such as Email, Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
Amir Yazdanpanah, Head of Technology Innovation at SISD, said, “In partnership with teachers, our technology innovation department designs, develops and implements instructional content, courses and projects leading to fully immersive STEM integration.”
Educators are also able to better understand student needs and identify problematic areas with the use of technology, which students benefit from as they get to address areas where they need to improve early on.
David Hicks, Principal, Dubai International Academy, Al Barsha, said, “Use of deep dive analysis of students’ performance through analytical tools like spreadsheets and databases helps us identify areas of strength and weaknesses and then build on them.”
At the Dubai British School, a school-wide BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programme encourages an enterprising and innovative learning experience, which is key to preparing young people for the future, according to Neal Oates, Assistant Head (Whole School), Dubai British School (DBS).
He added, “We also give every student access to an Office 365 subscription, allowing them to have industry-level tools to work with through both the primary and secondary phase.”