Pupils use the interactive Alef Education platform at Al Asayel School. Courtesy Alef Education
Pupils use the interactive Alef Education platform at Al Asayel School. Courtesy Alef Education

Abu Dhabi school offers glimpse into classroom of the future

Al Asayel School used to look like any other, with its whiteboards, markers and books. Now, however, traditional teaching equipment has been replaced with an interactive calendar, digital avatars and iPads.

Grade six at the school is now being exclusively taught with Alef Education, an online education platform that engages pupils through the use of technology.

First trialed in 2017, more than 6,000 pupils across Abu Dhabi will be using the programme next academic year.

The privately-held UAE-based education technology company and the Ministry of Education have signed an agreement to implement Alef’s education system in 10 Abu Dhabi public schools.

The programme will be implemented across grade six to eight and will cover mathematics, science, English and Arabic at Al Suqoor School, Al Asayel School, Fatima bint Mubarak School, Sa'ad bin Mo'ath School, Atika bint Abdel Muttalib School, Makkah School, Al Dhaher School, Al Khair School, Qatr Al Nada School and Al Nokhba School.

Through the Alef programme, children will learn by watching videos and reading digital content, while answering questions. Each lesson starts with a video and the system employs artificial intelligence to graduate pupils to the next lesson - depending on the number of questions they answer correctly.

Should a pupil appear to struggle with a concept, the system reroutes and presents the lesson again in a manner tailored to the pupil’s needs. Some children may appear to learn more from videos so the system presents information visually instead.


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Grade six pupils at Al Asayel have been learning with the help of Alef, which is the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, since 2017.

Jessica Brampton, a sixth grade English teacher at the school, said pupils were responding well to the new system.

"When you introduce 21st-century skills to a generation that is growing up now, their interest piques. Pupils love the multimedia aspects and videos. Children prefer this method as they can go at their own pace and can revisit an area they are struggling with,” she said.

The system gives teachers data and feedback in real-time, helping them to ascertain areas a pupil may need more support in. Prior to Alef, the teachers would have to wait for assessment results to track development.

"Within 10 minutes of my lesson, I get feedback. I can see what they are understanding and change my approach,” said Ms Brampton.

If the system finds that only a handful of pupils are struggling with a concept, she can work with them directly. Whereas if the entire class misunderstands a concept she knows to revisit the topic.

The positive impact of implementing Alef is reflected in the pupils’ results. The average score of learning outcomes at the start of the term was between 50-60 and has shot up to between 80-90, Mr Brampton said.

Aishah Alyammahi, principal of Al Asayel School, said the innovative technology was also helping build pupils’ confidence.

“Many pupils are shy to say we won’t understand. In a video format, they can comfortably re-watch the video. They are more interested in these subjects now,” she said.

“When we compare the difference in performance between term one and term two, we can see huge progress.”

Each class has a smartboard which connects to the pupils’ laptops. Data is collected from each laptop to let the teacher know who needs more help.

"The teachers say that this makes their lives easier as the material is ready for them. The data collected helps them understand where the child is struggling. In term one many children failed in math and science but in term two most pupils passed the exams," Ms Alyammahi said.

Geoffrey Alphonso, chief executive officer of Alef Education, said he hoped to implement the system in more schools, outside of the UAE.

The company plans to implement the system from Kindergarten to grade 12 and it will be used at two schools in the United States from September.

South Africa's T20 squad

Duminy (c), Behardien, Dala, De Villiers, Hendricks, Jonker, Klaasen (wkt), Miller, Morris, Paterson, Phangiso, Phehlukwayo, Shamsi, Smuts.

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 582bhp

Torque: 730Nm

Price: Dh649,000

On sale: now 

Grand slam winners since July 2003

Who has won major titles since Wimbledon 2003 when Roger Federer won his first grand slam

Roger Federer 19 (8 Wimbledon, 5 Australian Open, 5 US Open, 1 French Open)

Rafael Nadal 16 (10 French Open, 3 US Open, 2 Wimbledon, 1 Australian Open)

Novak Djokovic 12 (6 Australian Open, 3 Wimbledon, 2 US Open, 1 French Open)

Andy Murray 3 (2 Wimbledon, 1 US Open)

Stan Wawrinka 3 (1 Australian Open, 1 French Open, 1 US Open)

Andy Roddick 1 (1 US Open)

Gaston Gaudio 1 (1 French Open)

Marat Safin 1 (1 Australian Open)

Juan Martin del Potro 1 (1 US Open)

Marin Cilic 1 (1 US Open)

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi

Director: Kangana Ranaut, Krish Jagarlamudi

Producer: Zee Studios, Kamal Jain

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Ankita Lokhande, Danny Denzongpa, Atul Kulkarni

Rating: 2.5/5


Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

If you go

The flights

The closest international airport for those travelling from the UAE is Denver, Colorado. British Airways (www.ba.com) flies from the UAE via London from Dh3,700 return, including taxes. From there, transfers can be arranged to the ranch or it’s a seven-hour drive. Alternatively, take an internal flight to the counties of Cody, Casper, or Billings

The stay

Red Reflet offers a series of packages, with prices varying depending on season. All meals and activities are included, with prices starting from US$2,218 (Dh7,150) per person for a minimum stay of three nights, including taxes. For more information, visit red-reflet-ranch.net.


The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside


Company: Vault
Started: June 2023
Co-founders: Bilal Abou-Diab and Sami Abdul Hadi
Based: Abu Dhabi
Licensed by: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Industry: Investment and wealth advisory
Funding: $1 million
Investors: Outliers VC and angel investors
Number of employees: 14

Company profile

Name: Khodar
Based: Cairo and Alexandria, in Egypt
Founders: Ayman Hamza, Yasser Eidrous and Amr El Sheikh
Sector: agriculture technology
Funding: $500,000
Investors: Saudi Arabia’s Revival Lab and others
Employees: 35


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

School counsellors on mental well-being

Schools counsellors in Abu Dhabi have put a number of provisions in place to help support pupils returning to the classroom next week.

Many children will resume in-person lessons for the first time in 10 months and parents previously raised concerns about the long-term effects of distance learning.

Schools leaders and counsellors said extra support will be offered to anyone that needs it. Additionally, heads of years will be on hand to offer advice or coping mechanisms to ease any concerns.

“Anxiety this time round has really spiralled, more so than from the first lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Priya Mitchell, counsellor at The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi.

“Some have got used to being at home don’t want to go back, while others are desperate to get back.

“We have seen an increase in depressive symptoms, especially with older pupils, and self-harm is starting younger.

“It is worrying and has taught us how important it is that we prioritise mental well-being.”

Ms Mitchell said she was liaising more with heads of year so they can support and offer advice to pupils if the demand is there.

The school will also carry out mental well-being checks so they can pick up on any behavioural patterns and put interventions in place to help pupils.

At Raha International School, the well-being team has provided parents with assessment surveys to see how they can support students at home to transition back to school.

“They have created a Well-being Resource Bank that parents have access to on information on various domains of mental health for students and families,” a team member said.

“Our pastoral team have been working with students to help ease the transition and reduce anxiety that [pupils] may experience after some have been nearly a year off campus.

"Special secondary tutorial classes have also focused on preparing students for their return; going over new guidelines, expectations and daily schedules.”


Director: Nayla Al Khaja

Starring: Jefferson Hall, Faten Ahmed, Noura Alabed, Saud Alzarooni

Rating: 3.5/5


Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged V8

Power: 712hp at 6,100rpm

Torque: 881Nm at 4,800rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 19.6 l/100km

Price: Dh380,000

On sale: now

The Specs

Engine 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 582bhp (542bhp in GTS model)

Torque: 730Nm

Price: Dh649,000 (Dh549,000 for GTS) 

The specs: 2019 Subaru Forester

Price, base: Dh105,900 (Premium); Dh115,900 (Sport)

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder

Transmission: Continuously variable transmission

Power: 182hp @ 5,800rpm

Torque: 239Nm @ 4,400rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 8.1L / 100km (estimated)


South Africa 66 (Tries: De Allende, Nkosi, Reinach (3), Gelant, Steyn, Brits, Willemse; Cons: Jantjies 8) 

Canada 7 (Tries: Heaton; Cons: Nelson)

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