UAE Ministry of Education keen to promote AI, coding skills among kids


UAE Ministry of Education keen to promote AI, coding skills among kids

Dubai - Currently, 31 specialisation centres are already operational in public schools.

By Sarwat Nasir

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Published: Thu 31 Jan 2019, 9:09 PM

Last updated: Fri 1 Feb 2019, 12:51 AM

More than 35 specialisation centres, which aim to help students develop robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and programming skills, are being launched across UAE public schools and in the private sector.
The initiative by the Ministry of Education (MoE) was designed to prepare Emirati and expat students for national robotic competitions such as the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (AIR) series that took place last month.
The AIR was launched by the MoE in 2015 and has seen the number of the participants grow each year, as more than 3,000 students from public and private schools participated in this year's edition.
Currently, 31 specialisation centres are already operational in public schools. The ministry is increasing that figure to 71 and making a few of the new ones available inside shopping malls and other areas in the private sector.
Khalfan Al Marashdeh, director of skills development department at the MoE, told Khaleej Times: "The new centres are an extension of an initiative we started last year to support a series of robotics competition. The students come every Saturday and the schools have dedicated spaces to help them. The ministry provides them with the training and equipment.
"The students are briefed about the programming competitions and then they get trained every Saturday. Some of them are also being used as a qualifications centres.
We have a partnership with Shahab AlAhli sports club - they provide the necessary resources. We also announced a partnership with Emaar and they're opening a specialised centre for kids."
The UAE's education sector has increased its focus on providing students with the necessary skills in AI and robotics as the country tries to follow its National Innovation and Artificial Intelligence Strategy.
Several private schools in Dubai also have AI-focused competitions and classes to help students prepare for futuristic jobs, as reported by Khaleej Times previously.
Al Marashdeh said that the centres and the AIR series is also helping prepare students as he's seen some interesting and innovative projects from students, including a robot that can play football and others that complete complicated tasks.
When the series first started in 2015, there were only 32 participants and two different categories. In the recent one that took place at Adnec, there were more than 3,000 competitors and 20 various categories, including Minecraft National Competition (MNC), STEAM Project Kids, OnStage Preliminary League, Soccer Open League.
It was also the first time three major international robotic competitions came together under one roof - the VEX National Competitions, First National Competitions and RoboCup Junior National Competitions.
"We also have diversity in the participation as 55 per cent of qualified students were females. A total of 222 students were from KG cycle 1," Al Marashdeh said.
The launch dates of the new 40 centres are yet to be announced.

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