Almost half of Dubai parents want ‘alternative’ schooling for their child – KHDA Official Report
Almost half of the parents surveyed by the KHDA, Dubai’s schools regulator, said that they are interested in exploring an alternative to traditional schooling for their child.
The majority of the parents asked (44%) indicated that they would like to look into something other than traditional schooling, while 39% said they weren’t sure, and only 17% said they had no interest in an alternative to traditional schooling.
This was just one of the findings in a new report released on 13 October by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
Designed to be used as a reference, the report sets out what worked well for teachers, parents and students during the period of distance learning, what could have worked better, and makes recommendations for further innovations.
Fatma Belrehif, CEO of Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau at KHDA said, “The education community learned a great deal in its response to the challenges presented by the pandemic, especially in areas of student and staff wellbeing; the provision of distance and blended learning; and the key role of educators working from home and school. This report applies these lessons to how we could experience teaching and learning in the future.”
Time for a change?
Dubai parents’ interest in alternatives to traditional schooling comes at a time when Expo 2020’s upcoming RewirEd education summit is setting out to “entirely reshape education”, Dr Tariq Al Gurg, the chief executive of Dubai Cares, told The National. “We need a new approach towards education. The system that we have today is the same system that was set, 100 to 150 years ago. Hardly anything has changed, and it is not viable anymore.”
Could this mean a more permanent shift to online learning? Not according to most Dubai parents, with 57% of them saying in the KHDA survey that their child learns better at school than in distance learning, and only 21% saying that they would like their child to continue his or her education through online methods once the pandemic is over.
Lessons for the future
More than 60% of parents said that their child’s school is now prioritising children’s wellbeing more than it used to, and this is one of the pandemic-related changes that the KHDA recommends could be maintained even after the pandemic has ended.
“Going forward, schools could envision how some of the wellbeing practices that have developed during the pandemic can be woven into the daily fabric of school life, regardless of the modality of learning chosen,” says the report. “A wellbeing-enabled learning community is more likely to be a resilient and happy community.”
More than 60% of parents also say they are now much more involved in their child’s learning. “Schools could find ways to ensure that this positive involvement is maintained and developed to support further their children’s progress and development,” suggests the report.
The wider educational community needs to reflect on the structures and practices that have supported school leaders’ and teachers’ wellbeing during the pandemic, in order to maintain and develop further opportunities in this regard, adds the report.
Key community initiatives for schools during distance learning
InThisTogetherDubai – A virtual goodie bag for students, teachers and parents filled with resources that can help add spark to both teaching and learning. This site features apps, websites, service and other resources that organisations from the UAE and the world are providing.
WhatWorksX – Online sessions led by teachers and principals to share what’s working at their school during the distance learning period.
Positive Parenting Workshops: Free workshops for parents to learn from experts on positive parenting practices.
What worked well for schools?
According to the KHDA report, key successes for schools were:
- The introduction and use of a variety of digital learning platforms and tools, including online quizzes and assessments
- Modifying the curriculum to ensure continuity of learning through distance and blended modalities
- Training of teachers in delivering learning using digital and blended approaches
What was more challenging for schools?
- Ensuring student engagement and learning when teaching distance and face-to-face at the same time
- Being unable to use all the school facilities such as laboratories, library, swimming pool etc.
- Maintaining the quality of teaching, assessment and learning
Notes for parents
Did you reassess your view of what is important in education during the height of the pandemic? Did you look at alternative options for educating your child(ren)? What do you think our schools could do better – and now do better as a result of Covid-19. Email me at tabitha[email protected] and we will endeavour to include your views in future articles. Watch this space!
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