Sustainability Curriculum To Be Added To All UAE Schools

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A new climate change and sustainability programme will be implemented across the UAE’s schools, Ministers announced this week.

The new addition to all public and private school curricula will teach children about climate change, sustainability and how to help save the environment.

It is hoped that the students will then take the message into UAE homes and help cross-generational awareness of the subject.

The programme is a joint venture between the new Ministry of Climate Change, the Environment Agency and the Ministry of Education.

The course components will be added to various subjects already taught in schools, these include economics and science, Gulf News has reported.

The pilot programme will start next year in several private and public schools across the country.

Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, told the publication, “Some of the main challenges that we’re facing, waste management, [use of] chemical pesticides, the safety of foods; these all are going to be part of the curriculum.”

“For sure, water is going to have a big chunk of the focus because of the scarcity of water in this region,” he added.

He went on to say, “The ministry works to educate the young generation about the ongoing efforts at local and global levels to combat climate change issues and the concrete steps taken by the nation and the global community such as the UAE’s Green Agenda and Paris Agreement.”



Dubai Needs More New Schools: Says KHDA

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A new KHDA report released this week, said a continuation of the strong economy and sustained population growth will see Dubai gain an additional 60,000 school students by 2020.

However, the report, ‘Capacity to Grow-Opportunities in Dubai’s Education Market,’ warns that new schools opening in 2016 and after, can expect slower enrollment growth.

The KHDA says it expects enrollment growth in any new schools to return to what it calls, ‘a more traditional trajectory,’ when compared to the high rates experienced by schools which opened between 2010 to 2013.

The report notes, “it is too early to speculate on the pace of enrollment growth in the schools that have opened since 2013. It is clear from earlier periods that there is a correlation between a higher number of schools opening and a subsequent slower rate of enrollment take-up. A cyclical pattern of faster and slower take-up rates of enrollment in new schools over time should be considered a normal part of the education market in Dubai.”

The report does note however, “determining Dubai’s future requirements for specific types of private schools requires an understanding of the current and future supply of schools, the demand for different types of schools and the pace at which these schools reach capacity.”

The report highlights that this depends on a range of factors, which include: Dubai’s business cycle, the number of schools being opened around the same time, and aspects like school location and parental perception of quality.

For most private schools which opened in Dubai over the last decade, the average take-up pattern is to reach 30 per cent of its full capacity in the second year of operation; 50 per cent by the third year; 60 per cent by the fourth year; and 80 per cent by the seventh year.

However, the report does note variances in this pattern. In the past ten years, most Indian schools, schools offering a high quality education and those with a smaller than average capacity all generally displaying faster uptakes, while US curriculum schools in general had a slower than average rate of uptake.

The report highlights that uptake rates also differ depending on when the school was opened. Those opening between 2003 and 2009 recorded the slowest uptake rate, while those which opened between 2010 and 2013 recorded the fastest.

Approximately half of total enrollment growth has come from families living in the newer areas of Dubai, these include: Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Jebel Ali, Emirates Hills, Dubailand, Nad al Sheba and Academic City. More established areas such as Bur Dubai, Deira, Al Garhoud, and Al Muhaisnah continue to experience modest growth.

Interestingly, thirteen per cent of Dubai’s private school students live outside of Dubai, with the majority coming from Sharjah.

The report ends by saying, “Further investment is required to build additional new private schools to satisfy the demand for places. To match the diversity of Dubai’s population, a diversity in the supply of schools offering different curricula and innovation in education approaches is required. For investors who understand the importance of delivering high quality education in an innovative, fast-moving landscape, Dubai’s private schools sector promises long-term growth and new investment opportunities.”


Library for orphans opens in Dubai

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DUBAI // A library for orphans has been set up at the Family Village in Dubai to encourage the children to read.

The Dubai Culture and Arts Authority said the library is aimed at inspiring the children to start reading at a young age. Available books include fairy tales and religious, cultural, educational and scientific titles.

The library was set up under directives from Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed, Vice Chairwoman of Dubai Culture.

The library is designed to support the children’s education by providing them with the best works in children’s literature. A selection of 350 Arabic-language books is provided for more than 30 children at the village.

The initiative is in line with the declaration of 2016 as the Year of Reading.

“Dubai Culture is committed to instilling social values, customs and heritage, and providing a better future for the local community and the youth of today,” the authority said, as quoted by the state news agency, Wam, on Monday.

“It is also committed to foster a strong literary culture in the city of Dubai.”

The Family Village is a home for orphaned children launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. It falls under the Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation.



UAE Spelling Bee Championship open to all schools

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Dubai, UAE: The third edition of The Danube Spelling Bee Championship is set to take place acorss the Emirates starting this month, announced the event managament company Exquity Events.

With over 2,000 students already registered, the international educational tradition has started its preliminary rounds and will continue until December. The Bee is open to all schools across the emirates from grades 6 to 10.

The format for the competition will be modified in the region and will include all syllabi whether American, British, Pakistani or Indian so that special allowances for pronunciation and spellings will be made.

The UAE champion this year will win an all expense paid trip to Washingotn DC and will receive Dh25,000 in addition to other prizes.

The semifinals are set to take place on January 10-11, 2014 and the grand finale will take place on February 8 at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

© Gulf News

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Virtual Reality now a reality in UAE schools

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Dubai, UAE: UAE students have started learning through Virtual Reality (VR)under a pilot project of the Ministry of Education, officials said on Tuesday at The Digital Education Show Middle East 2016 in Dubai.

They are using VR headsets to explore worlds and scenarios too difficult or dangerous to experience in real life — such as the destructive effects of climate change or a tour of the International Space Station.

The project is being rolled out in 17 “elite science-stream public schools” in the UAE, said Gemma Escott, Education Specialist, Ministry of Education. A successful VR course was recently held for seventh graders in a school in Dibba, her presentation at Tuesday’s event showed. A video showed how the students responded to climate change studies in a VR science class.

Escott said students using VR are more engaged and eager to learn, which is the idea behind the ministry’s push to deploy the latest technology in the classroom. VR provides a sense of “immersion” into the topic using life-like interactivity with the content.

Students will soon also be learning about the International Space Station through VR, guided by teachers also using VR, she added. The content is made available through services such as Google Expeditions. Escott expects more customised content for schooling in the future as the VR trend grows in education.

VR also helps students develop “emotional intelligence” by being more empathetic and practical regarding emergencies depicted in VR, such as an earthquake aftermath, she added.

“Imagine you’re in a natural disaster [VR] scenario. If you’re a medical student, wouldn’t it be great to see a 360-degree view and get feedback from the instructor on how you’re doing? [VR] lets you feel more equipped and adds another dimension and more dynamics,” Escott said.

Lewis Hall, manager of the Department of English at the ministry, who was co-presenting Tuesday’s session, said VR also allows simulated access to “impossible worlds” such as historical sites from the past. He added that officials are also working to open up a virtual and interactive Oil and Gas plant in the UAE for students’ learning. Hall said VR also allows students to study phenomena such as nuclear reactions that are “too dangerous for the classroom”.

Some of the VR classes have teacher-led and homework modes, while others allow students to roam free and explore on their own.

“We would like to see [VR] classes in every school,” Escott said when asked about the potential for VR-led learning in UAE schools.

Experts at the event said since technology is advancing so fast, educators need to extrapolate the future needs of students.

Andrew Robinson, director of higher education at Cengage Learning, said: “The UAE is focusing on advancing its teaching and learning methods in schools and universities to offer quality education and that is why we are here. It’s not just about us providing products to meet today’s requirement; it’s also about us assessing what the future will bring and how we can effectively gear up to provide solutions for tomorrow’s generation of educators and scholars.”

© Gulf News

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Teaching award could inspire new educators, GEMS Education

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UAE: Awards for excellence are offered in many fields today: those who further the cause of peace, push the limits of the sciences, write great books, create art and music and film, are all rewarded with international prizes.

To this field of awards could soon be added another: an international accolade for the education sector. As The National reported yesterday, a US$1 million (Dh3.7m) Nobel-style prize will be launched in Dubai next year, during the Global Education and Skills Forum by Gems, the worldwide education group based in Dubai.

Sunny Varkey, chairman of Gems said on Tuesday that the aim of the award is “to promote teachers as stars and to support the quality of education to highlight the enormous impact teachers have on our lives”.

Teaching is one of the most important jobs. It requires constant dedication, determination and a wide range of skills and qualities such as effective communication and leadership.

Teachers do more than simply teach material. The very best of the breed are agents of change, inspirational figures who nurture talent. All of us have a story to tell about a teacher who affected us strongly. The best of the profession bring history to life and put science in order. They help students reach their potential.

So any recognition of their hard work and the creation of role models is welcome. As yet, the education prize is long on intent and short on details. But it is to be hoped that the award will do more than merely offer a financial award to a profession whose best rarely seek such rewards.

What would be ideal would be for the award to seek to create and highlight role models. To show the best of teaching and the best of teachers, and then provide ways for these “stars” of the profession to spread what they have learnt. We would like to see the award winners spreading the word: being offered ways to improve the skills of ordinary teachers and spreading their knowledge; sharing their best practice and inspiring more educators to emulate them.

Teaching is deeply contextual: like nursing, it depends on a close connection, and what works in one context may not easily apply in another. Yet the best teachers will share many traits of compassion and expertise. If there is an award for teaching, we hope it will provide the same level of inspiration to teachers as they provide, day in and day out, to pupils across the world.

© The National

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