Coronavirus shuts schools in UAE, all you need to know about studying from home
The UAE Ministry of Education has announced its distance learning initiative, which aims to ensure children keep learning despite schools being shut due to coronavirus, will launch for two weeks on Sunday, March 22, following the pilot scheme has been underway since Wednesday.
The ministry launched a pilot stage of the initiative alongside the announcement that schools will be closing for four weeks from Sunday, March 8. The initiative aims to use technology to allow teachers to teach children remotely and through self-learning online, with the pilot stage covering 82,533 students on Thursday.
According to the directive from the Ministry of Education, public schools will adhere to the following calendar:
Spring break - March 8 to March 21
Distance learning initiative - March 22 to April 4.
What is the UAE’s distance learning initiative?
The distance learning initiative is the UAE Ministry of Education’s name for the process of students learning from home while their schools are shut due to coronavirus.
According to the ministry announcement which launched the initiative, parents should provide their children with “internet services, other distance education resources like computers, tablets, and smart phones.”
The ministry said that it had directed school administrations on how to launch an awareness campaign on distance education, which should assign tasks and implement interactive lessons for students working from home.
Students should be prohibited from using their devices for “distracting activities like photography and web-browsing” while studying, according to the ministry.
“Implementation of this system is prioritized by the ministry to provide an interactive e-platform for distance education for all and to overcome time and geographical barriers, and harness educational potential and advanced technologies to ease student stress,” added the statement.
Which schools does it apply to?
The Ministry of Education governs all public, government schools in the country. The distance learning initiative applies to them.
Private schools in the UAE are regulated by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KDHA) and so do not fall under the distance learning initiative.
Private schools are expected to have a standard procedure for emergencies which would cover coronavirus.
Public MoE schools will start distance learning initiatives in the last two weeks of the holidays. Private schools are encouraged to share their distance learning plans with parents & students. pic.twitter.com/Qk5uqHoazv— وزارة التربية (@MOEducationUAE) March 3, 2020
Uncertainty for parents, teachers
With nurseries and day centers also closed, the reaction from parents to the schools decision online has been mixed.
While some parents said they were anxious about providing childcare during work, others welcomed the initiative as a necessary measure to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus and prevent children from being infected.
Some teachers also remained uncertain about the exact procedures in place.
“At present, we are unsure about the distance learning program. We’re supposed to be in school next week working and at that point, we’re supposed to be getting told what the online platform will be,” said a teacher from a Dubai private school on the condition of anonymity.
“Right now we’re waiting on headmasters from our schools, meeting up with I assume the Ministry of Education or KDHA and finding out exactly what the process is,” they added. “I think it’s going to be more like Sunday, Monday, Tuesday when we actually find out how they’re going to implement this online learning in the private sector as opposed to the government schools.”