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Experts call for traditional touch in teaching system at UAE event

Silvia Radan /Abu Dhabi
silvia@khaleejtimes.com Filed on March 2, 2016 | Last updated on March 2, 2016 at 06.12 am
Experts call for traditional touch in teaching system at UAE event
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, CEO, Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), Afghanistan- During Schools Now, Conference under the theme Empowering Leaders, Teachers and Students. at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr.

(Nezar Balout)

"Today the world is in trouble. We have poverty, malnutrition, war, sickness, forced underage marriages. How can we fight all these? Through education," Yacoobi said.

Sakena Yacoobi was a teacher from Afghanistan in the 1990s, when she was in a refugee camp in Pakistan, which hosted seven million people.

"I looked around and everybody was miserable. Children were miserable, women were miserable and, as an individual, I asked myself how can I help," she said. Education was the answer. Teaching these women and children how to read and write, how to ask questions, empowering them to think.

"Today the world is in trouble. We have poverty, malnutrition, war, sickness, forced underage marriages. How can we fight all these? Through education," Yacoobi said.

Yacoobi, who is now the CEO of the Afghan Institute of Learning, made a plea for modernising education and for international cooperation in education during the opening of Schools Now, a two-day conference began in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. The conference is being organised by the British Council's Partner Schools Network, a global network of schools.

"Major participants from UK, UAE, Pakistan, Ghana, Egypt and various parts of the MEA region will be sharing their case studies and expertise, as part of efforts to come up with solutions to the challenges schools face in meeting the expectations of students, parents, examining bodies, employers and society in general," said Marc Jessel, country director for the British Council, UAE.

According to the latest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development survey, there is consistent and widespread access to technology both within schools and in homes. Some 93 per cent of secondary schools make use of an online learning platform, while 97 per cent of secondary school children and 94 per cent of primary school children now have access to the internet from their home.

"However, according to numerous studies, internet access does not necessarily translate into success in the classroom and might not improve learning outcomes, because revolutionising learning technology in classrooms won't yield fruits if traditional teaching methods are misused or under-utilised," added Jessel.

The 200 education experts gathered in Abu Dhabi from all corners of the world also agree that there is "good" in the traditional system as well that needs keeping. Joe Hallgarten, director of creative learning and development at the Royal Society of Arts, UK, believes that too much innovation and modernising could, in fact, harm education.

"Schools that don't embrace innovation are likely not to see improvement in the learning outcome," he said. However, he added: "Too much innovation widens the gap between the advantaged students and the less privileged."

In UAE, private education continues to hold the upper hand when it comes to students learning results. Despite the high costs, private education is preferred by parents also because it "caters" to most national education systems out there.

"We at the Adec are lucky to have diversity in private schools," said Hamad Al Dhaheri, executive director of Private Schools and Quality Assurance at Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec).

"Over 70 per cent of our students go to private schools, where they study over 15 different national and international curricula," he added.

silvia@khaleejtimes.com

Silvia Radan

I'm a senior journalist with 22 years experience in all forms of mass media. Originally from Romania, I lived and work in Bosnia, Uzbekistan, England and, for the past 10 years, in UAE. I specialize in art, culture, traditions, heritage, but also environment and the hospitality industry. I'm passionate about jazz and world music, cinema, mythology and offroading - I'm a marshal with one of UAE's offroading clubs!





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