Emarat Al Youm: Quality Education for People of Determination Despite COVID-19 Challenges

The UAE has started the new school year with an integrated plan to ensure a safe and high-quality educational service for all, despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. These challenges did not prevent UAE authorities from planning and arranging for people of determination to be provided with the best educational opportunities. Due to concerns over the potential spread of COVID-19, and the need to meet the requirements of people of determination in distance learning, the Ministry of Community Development, which is responsible for people of determination, created the Kheta smart educational platform. The implementation of the platform began in early 2020 and was finalized ahead of the new school year. Since the beginning of August 2020, the Ministry has commenced training in using the platform for all students at its centers.

According to the Ministry, the platform “overcomes all the obstacles of the educational and rehabilitation services of people of determination, and at the same time supports their families remotely through the development of educational and rehabilitation programs that are easy to implement at home.” It “enables practitioners in people of determination centers across the UAE to determine the educational level of beneficiaries and their families using a scientific methodology.” It also enables them to “develop and build individual educational and rehabilitation plans promptly using Artificial Intelligence algorithms, as well as track their development levels with minimal effort.” The platform is therefore an example of the adoption of technology in the educational process, so that students are better prepared for an advanced work environment that is itself increasingly dependent on technology.

These steps reflect the great attention paid to people of determination in the UAE by the federal government, local departments, and non-governmental organizations. All these entities strive to support and empower people of determination and create the best opportunities for education, training, rehabilitation and integration into society. The National Policy for Empowering People of Determination, launched on April 18, 2017, sets out a comprehensive vision in this regard. Attention to people of determination has increased in recent years, and the UAE has become a hub for global events designed for people of determination. The UAE hosted the Abu Dhabi 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, under the patronage and support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (may God protect him). It was the largest and most important Special Olympics tournament since its inception, the first Olympics Games in the Middle East region of the world, with the most female athletes attending and a record 200 nations represented.

The Kheta platform is evidence of the significant development taking place in education in the UAE and the steps being taken to ensure people of determination benefit from it. It is the result of cooperation between the Ministry of Community Development and the Saudi Arabian technology company Ynmo, which seeks to “provide high-quality services to people with disabilities by facilitating the learning process”. To achieve this goal, Ynmo strives to develop the skills of those involved in the education of people of determination, from teachers, supervisors, and administrators, to parents. Although the company was only launched in November 2017, it has achieved remarkable success in a short period of time.

This cooperation between the Ministry and Ynmo was supervised by UAE-based Ibtikar Edu Tech Solutions, a specialist in innovative technology-based educational solutions, products and services for all educational sectors in the GCC countries. The company contributes to programs that benefit more than 120,000 students, and 300 schools. The cooperation between the three parties set the stage for further Gulf technology partnerships in education, making use of the potential of this promising sector, supported by the cultural homogeneity, social similarities and shared values between the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Thus, cooperation in education is based on solid foundations, benefiting both sides.

The launch of the Kheta platform is a step forward on the road to empowering people of determination. It was preceded by successful efforts to educate and rehabilitate people of education, so that they become active participants in the development process in a country that is steadily progressing to the foremost position in all fields.