Emarat Al Youm: Hybrid Education is the Best Model for the Coronavirus Era

The UAE has been an inspiring model in the education sector during the coronavirus pandemic, responding to the effects of the global health emergency with efficiency and forward planning. It seamlessly maintained the education process by implementing 100% distance learning, making it a viable alternative amid the lockdown of schools and universities and the exceptional challenges resulting from the pandemic.

This is a reflection of the importance of the education sector in the UAE, and the attention it has paid to the development of a world-class education system since its establishment. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may God rest his soul in peace), believed that educated people are the real wealth of a nation, and the key to true advancement. His vision laid the groundwork for developing proactive plans and policies for the educational sector. Our wise leadership has continued to pay great attention to education, implementing various strategies and initiatives to support national development visions. This has led to successive improvements in education quality, the most recent of which is the evolution of a sustainable, technology-enhanced education system designed to create a generation with the necessary skills required for the future economy and its emerging challenges.

The development of the education system in the UAE has been governed by two core principles. The first is a commitment to smart transformation in the education system; and the second is a focus on enhancing the role of technology in learning, with a shift from traditional forms of education to new ones that are better suited to the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This has greatly contributed to establishing a solid educational model, which was able to adapt to the exceptional circumstances arising from the coronavirus pandemic. This can be attributed to the insightful vision of the wise leadership, which recognized the need to prepare future generations to withstand and overcome difficulties with resolve and determination.

Given the flexibility of our educational system, the UAE’s government schools have adopted a new mechanism for school attendance for the new 2020/2021 academic year. It is based on a hybrid education model that combines 70% direct education at school, and 30% distance learning. The private education sector, meanwhile, has been given the freedom to choose their education model depending on their own circumstances, so as to ensure a smooth and optimal education process for each school.

The most prominent characteristic of the new hybrid model is the breadth of options given to parents, and the diverse educational methods and models offered as part of operational policies and guidelines, depending on the capacity of each school. It has also provided flexibility in school attendance, ranging from 5 to 6 hours a day, to best meet the needs of students. The UAE is also committed to continuing and consolidating smart learning, by encouraging the use of smart technologies that enrich students’ culture and knowledge, and prepare them for higher education and the future requirements of the labour market.

With the pandemic continuing to pose a significant threat, the UAE’s relevant authorities have adopted a set of important precautionary measures to protect school communities from possible COVID-19 infections. These safety protocols include medical screening tests before students and teaching staff are allowed to return to school, the wearing of masks, avoiding gatherings, and maintaining personal hygiene, such as the frequent washing of hands.

Despite the exceptional circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the process of education in the UAE has continued unabated, supported by development plans and comprehensive enhancements as part of a national effort in which various educational institutions take part. This is in line with the wise leadership’s vision for education, aimed at creating an advanced and sustainable sector, where the role of technology in the educational process is enhanced. The goal is to ensure that the best educational practices and modern educational curricula are adopted, while also preparing to meet the needs of the future economy.