Dubai pupils to get work experience as part of school curriculum

The programme falls under a flexible learning scheme by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority

Dubai pupils will be able to get real-life work experience as part of a flexible-learning school programme that begins next academic year.

The scheme, which will come at no extra cost to parents, will be introduced to Gems FirstPoint School’s curriculum in September.

Up to 30 pupils from year 12 and 13 will take on internships and work placements, during school hours, at German multinational manufacturing company, Siemens.

Matthew Tompkins, the school’s principal, said the agreement between Gems Education and Siemens would give their pupils an advantage in the job market upon graduation.

“The programme is going to be part of the school day and it will give children real-life work experience and adds relevance to the theories we are teaching,” he said, referring to the benefits of out of classroom learning.

“People from Siemens will also come to the school and deliver lectures. Siemens will advise on the curriculum and ensure teachers are kept up to date on the latest thinking.”

Pupils signed up for the internship programme will spend one day each week with the company. The work experience programme is part of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority’s specialised learning initiative Rahhal.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - June 23, 2019: Dancers from GEMS firstpoint school. Pioneering Industry Collaborations with Education. Sunday the 23rd of June 2019. GEMS FirstPoint School, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Schools signed up to the initiative propose a personalised education programme, which often includes project-based or out of classroom work, to the KHDA, who then decide if the scheme can go ahead.

Gems FirstPoint School is the ninth school in Dubai to implement Rahhal. The school plans to partner with more companies to offer their pupils a variety of work experience options.

"We will put as many opportunities in front of the pupils as we possibly can. Education needs to have relevance and prepare children for work life and this will make sure they focus on things they want to do," said Mr Tompkins.

Ryan Thomas, an Indian year six pupil, said the programme would help him decide what job he would like to do in future.

“One of the projects that excites me is the one where the school is thinking about using solar panels as shades for cars in the school so that these can be used to power the school,” said Ryan, 11, who has registered for Rahhal.

On Sunday, parents hailed the programme, saying the experience would be valuable to their children.

“This will prepare [my son] for work life,” said Prince Kinglsey, Ryan’s father.

"If these children can get exposure to a work environment and get practical skills of working in a team and dealing with people, presenting ideas to people, that is a phenomenal move.

"This opens them up to opportunities and ideas," he said.

Areej Al Zabalawi, mother of Mousa Shanaah, 12, a year seven pupil at the school said the programme would give her son an advantage when applying at universities.

"The future is all about technology and this will give them the opportunity to learn about this right from the school level," she said.

Pupils enrolled in the internship programme could potentially be hired by Siemens, the company’s chief executive in the Middle East said.

"We will give the pupils the technology so they can learn about what big companies are doing and the can use it to see how their lives can be improved,” said Dietmar Siersdorfer.

"We want to take the pupils to our offices so they can see the day to day work."

Indian High School, the largest school in the country, piloted the Rahhal programme in April.

Their programme gave some pupils a day and a half every week to pursue interests in sports, academics and arts.

What is Rahhal?

Rahhal is Dubai's personalised learning programme that aims to provide a creative and innovative alternative to mainstream education.

It was announced as part of 10X, the Dubai Future Foundation’s plan to achieve 10 years’ worth of development in the next two.

Rahhal allows pupils to study at more than one school, or part time, while spending the rest of their time developing the skills they are most interested in.

Schools design and propose a flexible learning plan, based on the needs of their pupils, to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, the emirate’s education regulator.

KHDA reviews and approves the plan which is then presented as an optional programme to pupils in participating schools.

Pupils that register, can use the programme to personalise their education by using school time to hone other skills.

Since April, 1,200 grade 11-12 pupils at Indian High School in Dubai have been getting a day and a half off every week to pursue their hobbies.