Four in ten parents in Dubai want 'alternative to traditional schooling' after pandemic

Education regulator's study also finds one in four thought their child learns better remotely

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Nearly half of parents of privately educated pupils in Dubai are interested in an alternative to traditional education, a new study has found.

Forty-four per cent said they would be keen to explore options other than bricks-and-mortar schools for their children.

Further findings showed 26 per cent said their children learnt better at home using distance learning - though the majority, 57 per cent, said they learnt better back in the classroom.

The findings came as parents weigh up the high cost of private education, given the financial squeeze on many households during the pandemic. Schools and universities are also under pressure to look at how well they are preparing young people for a rapidly changing job market.

The results were detailed in a survey by the government-run Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which regulates private schools in Dubai.

Leaders have recognised that teachers are dealing with a changed and more complex workload. These include being in school and working from home in the same week and other personal and Covid-related issues
Knowledge and Human Development Authority

Twenty-one per cent of parents reported that they would want their children to continue with online learning after the Covid-19 pandemic, with 61 per cent disagreeing with this sentiment and the remaining 18 per cent unsure.

The pandemic transformed the education sector for many millions of pupils and teachers around the globe as schools switched to online learning.

While traditional education methods still hold sway with the public, schools have adapted to new technology to ensure study continues during the pandemic.

Teacher wellbeing was brought under focus in the new report.

“Leaders have recognised that teachers are dealing with a changed and more complex workload,” read the KHDA study, titled Community First.

“These include being in school and working from home in the same week, balancing the needs of pupils doing distance and face-to-face learning, and other personal and Covid-related issues.”

According to the study, schools established ways to help teachers who were struggling during the pandemic.

Schools organised wellness committees to support staff, had mentors to coach teachers with IT skills when schools moved to online learning, and organised informal virtual events.

“The education community learnt a great deal in its response to the challenges presented by the pandemic, especially in areas of pupil and staff wellbeing; the provision of distance and blended learning; and the key role of educators working from home and school,” Fatma Belrehif, chief executive officer of Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau at KHDA, said.

“This report applies these lessons to how we could experience teaching and learning in the future.”

Parents’ engagement in their children’s education changed during the pandemic, and 61 per cent parents said they were now much more involved in it.

The report revealed that 87 per cent parents were satisfied with the quality of education their children received.

Most of the Dubai’s pupil population of close to 300,000 children, barring those with exemptions, went back to classrooms on October 3, when schools reopened throughout the emirate.

The UAE has embraced technology to further its development in numerous sectors, education included.

An innovative coding college without teachers or classrooms opened in Abu Dhabi this week, with 225 students.

Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed, a member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, inaugurated the campus, called 42 Abu Dhabi, in Mina Zayed on Sunday.

Sheikh Khaled said it represented a milestone in the UAE leadership’s strategy to nurture tomorrow’s leaders today.

Updated: October 14, 2021, 5:55 AM