Equipping students with the right tool to cope and compete effectively in this fast changing world is imperative, if they are to successfully evolve in this digital milieu.
In this day and age, intellectual readiness is not enough; the youngsters should also have highly-developed skills in digital technology and cyberspace knowhow.
“Technological literacy is an important part of modern education to ensure that students are comfortable using and adapting technology throughout their lives,” said Mohammad Younes, division manager of Information Technology at the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC). For this very reason, ADEC has started upgrading the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure of all 305 public schools in the emirate – Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Gharbiya. “This upgrade is designed to ensure that all students in public schools have access to important learning resources,” said Younes.
The state-of-the-art infrastructure, which costs Dh350 million, will include components such as an end-to-end structured cabling system, local area network with full wireless coverage and internet connectivity upgrade. This upgrade will help connect all schools to a wide area network that will provide centralized management, support and monitoring services over the coming 12 months.
At present, the level and quality of ICT facilities and connectivity varies amongst different schools, “there is currently no defined standard”.
But with the upgrade, it will ensure that all schools have comprehensive access to cutting edge technology including hardware, software, connectivity, and ADEC resources such as the electronic student information system (e-SIS), geographic information system (GIS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) through high speed and fully secured networks.
ADEC’s e-SIS is an online data system that efficiently manages student records for all education zones in the emirate while the GIS directs school locations in the emirate as well as provide information on the school, and teacher and student statistics.
The ERP meanwhile supports online human resource management and payroll functions for the council.
Etisalat, the main contractor for the upgrade project, will deliver the first 60 schools this coming September in time for the opening of the new academic year. By November, all 147 Kindergarten and Cycle 1 schools will be completed and by July 2011, all 305 public schools will be upgraded.
To complement the improved infrastructure, ADEC will provide 12,000 desktops this year to various schools in the emirate, in addition to the 12,000 desktops and laptops that ADEC has already provided in the past two years.
“To start with, each school will receive between 50-75 desktops depending on the number of students and faculty in each school,” said Younes.
And, once the infrastructure upgrade is completed, laptops will also be provided, however the number of laptops will be in accordance with the needs of the curriculum as well as the teaching/learning methodologies.
“It is important to invest in the best infrastructure in our schools so that we can maximize the potential of the education system, through enhancing methods of learning, teaching and administration”, Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, director general of ADEC remarked.
A sentiment shared by all educational authorities and universities in the Gulf region when they collectively launched a GCC-wide computer summer literacy camps for students from June 1 to September 31, 2010.
Overseen by ICDL GCC Foundation, the governing body and the certification authority of the International Computer Driving License programme in the Gulf States and Iraq, the camps engaged some 2,400 students from various schools and universities in the UAE.
During the summer camps, participants will undergo extensive computer training in accordance with the globally recognised ICDL standard.
And by the end of the programme, thousands of students are expected to attain the ICDL certification after passing the tests that not only affirm their competence in using computers and the Internet but also showcases their resourcefulness, self-confidence and responsibility.
“The youth are the pillars of the nation and efforts to equip them with necessary digital skills will have a significant impact on the country’s progress and its goal of building a knowledge-based digital society,” said Anurag Agrawal, managing director of Canon Middle East.
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