Coronavirus UAE: Demand for online schooling on the rise


Dubai - With more flexibility and engagement along with the safety aspects, on-screen learning is booming.

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Sun 31 Jan 2021, 5:28 PM

Online learning has been the way forward ever since the pandemic started and are still surging — partly because the Covid-19 vaccine has not been rolled out for children under 16 and parents remain worried as the number of virus cases is spiking.

With more flexibility and engagement along with the safety aspects, on-screen learning is booming. The only online school in the country approved by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), iCademy Middle East, claims to have witnessed a 200 per cent surge in enrolment. In Abu Dhabi alone, they saw a 30 per cent increase in new registrations.

“The school has particularly witnessed an increase from students in the UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. The government’s decision to continue distance learning for pupils is a precautionary measure to limit the spread of Covid-19 and protect the health and safety of its residents. This has led to a substantial increase in our enrolments, which is clear evidence that the virtual school model is appealing to new families at a moment of upheaval and uncertainty,” said Cody Claver, general manager of iCademy Middle East.

“Parents are looking for stability and opting for an online school that has been supporting this type of learning for several years provides them with assurance at an affordable price. Parents want a programme that they know is consistent and has structure and will provide for their child’s needs at this time,” he added.

With teaching, learning, student life, mentoring and delivery formats going digital even preschoolers are being fine-tuned into the online groove.

“The provision of preschool education through online channels not only addresses the challenges during the current situation but is also opening up affordable quality education to a wider audience through an interesting curriculum curated by global early education specialists from some of the best universities across the world,” said Aniruddh Gupta, founder of Kido Education.

Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO-Principal of Credence High School, added: “The Internet and new technologies have become essential elements of our children’s lives. The digital world is here to stay. But it is important that children know how to use technology appropriately and understand their roles and responsibilities in the digital society.”

The decision to choose in-person learning versus online schooling is often dependent on each household’s situation. “The decision should be based on a family’s situation and how comfortable they are with the steps their child’s school is taking to reduce the spread of Covid-19,” said Dr Saista Amin, specialist paediatrician, Prime Medical Center Reef Mall. “In current times, one must carefully think about sending their children to school. If families are finding it difficult to make a decision, they may contact their paediatrician and school to help them with decision making,” she added.

As of now online learning seems to be a better option, said Dr Puneet Wadhwa, specialist paediatrician, Prime Hospital. “Once all the adults are vaccinated and herd immunity is achieved everyone will be in a better situation to open onsite schools. Therefore, parents should get themselves vaccinated at the earliest, as this will lead to herd immunity. It’s the need of the hour and everyone’s duty towards their families and society,” she said.

Online schools are safe, engaging and cost-effective

Schools are now increasingly becoming adept with the virtual learning format, according to parents.

“During online classes teachers seem to be presenting materials in various attention-grabbing, multimedia formats that I feel are better suited to today’s students. I am quite satisfied with this form of delivery as my child is responding well to online learning approaches,” said Dubai resident Annie Mathew, mother of two children.

Khaya Hyman, mother of two iCademy students, added: “With the cloud of continuous uncertainty looming over our heads, we thought it was best to enrol our children in a structured and proven online school. The school that our kid is enrolled in has impressive technology and they also have well-trained virtual learning teachers at an affordable rate. Our daughters are quite happy with it.”

More news from coronavirus