UAE launches a knowledge revolution

  • 3 October 2012

Public schools across the UAE are to put in place advanced electronic infrastructure complete with fourth-generation, high-speed networks in a concerted effort to strengthen the overall standard of learning and complement standard curriculums.

The use of the latest technology in education was the dominant theme at the third annual conference of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) titled ‘Information Technology and the Future of Education in the UAE.’

The ultimate aim of the initiative is to ensure that the UAE becomes a leading producer and exporter of knowledge, educationists addressing the conference in Abu Dhabi said on Tuesday.

The UAE government has been able to support education in advanced technical fields through a series of pioneering initiatives, most notably the ‘Smart Learning Initiative’ launched by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at an estimated cost of nearly Dh1 billion.

Khulood Saqr Al Qasimi, Director of the Curriculum Department at the Ministry of Education, said the forward-looking project involves the Ministry of Education and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and is directly followed up by the UAE Cabinet given its critical importance in the context of sustainable development plans.

The initiative will provide a variety of services for parents to electronically follow up on the education of their children, acquaint themselves with their projects, make comments and suggestions, besides sharing information with teachers and various sections in schools on the progress of their children.

The advantage of the project, which will be implemented in 400 schools within three years, is that it takes into account all the elements of the educational process — the student, the teacher and the curriculum, and the school environment. It will employ the latest and finest electronic information systems available to promote an integrated approach in the educational process, involving all concerned parties. The initiative also reflects a comprehensive e-transformation in the federal government.

“The UAE’s strategy for achieving sustainable human development gives more attention to quality of education because it is the fundamental basis for any successful investment in human resources,” Humaid Al Qutami, Minister of Education, told the third annual conference of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research.

Al Qutami said the UAE has assiduously worked towards attaining the objectives of ‘Education First’, a global initiative by the United Nations to ensure a transformative and quality education experience for all people. He also cited the increase in the number of students in 725 general schools to 268,272 students from only 24,000 in 129 schools in 1971 when the UAE was founded and 110,000 students in 80 higher education institutions.

According to figures for the academic year 2012-2013, the number of students in various disciplines of engineering and health sciences spread across 17 faculties stands at 6,265 currently.

Dr Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi, Director-General of the ECSSR, said there is a need to constantly upgrade the education system in view of the skills required to keep abreast with technological advances worldwide. “All of these form part of 21st century information and technology skills which form a sophisticated educational basis for the digital age and are considered fundamental to learning, living, working and creativity.”