The Minister of Education vows the country will see the back of backpacks. Speaking at an interactive session on the final day of a region-first two-day government summit, Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qattami, Minister of Education, said the school bag would become redundant within the next few years.
“The most important thing is to have the smart education project which certainly will come into existence in a few years to come...which will put an end to the role of the school bag, where we will not see it anymore.”
The Ministry of Education was “embracing” the project to enable education to be conducted solely on tablets.
“Students will be using iPads and the different curriculums can be opened on these same machines.”
But in the interim period before the rollout of iPad-only classes, textbooks would be divided into three different parts to “mitigate the effects on students” of heavy bag loads.
Al Qattami also said every student should be given a locker so bags could be locked up instead of carted around during the school day.
“I call on the school principals...to put into effect the initiatives that have been launched in a bid to expediate having lockers in schools and to cooperate with us in implementing moves that would reduce (the use of) school bags that are now sweeping the markets in different shapes and sizes.”
While the ministry had a duty to help, it was also up to schools and parents to cooperate with initiatives to reduce the weight of each school bag.
Student health record
Al Qattami also fielded questions from concerned parents about school food nutrition and the high price of private school fees.
Student nutrition was a priority, with many schools’ canteens already following nutrition guidelines established by a government committee, he said. Even private schools would soon have to abide by “health conditions”.
And the Ministries of Health and Education were collaborating to produce a detailed health record for each student in the country.
“Most important is to have a health record for each student which can reflect the situation of the student...this will give you the situations of each student, even if he is suffering from a health issue, or he’s missed some vaccination.”
Al Qattami also said by the end of the year, the ministry would provide 80 e-services where people could earn the equivalent of a diploma or certificate, with another 10 services to be available over the phone.
“We’re dealing with a generation more sophisiticated in dealing with new technology. I hope these services come up to the expectation of people.”