Indian students first to enrol for Rahhal in UAE
The launch took place at the Indian High School (IHS) in Oud Metha.
Ten years into the future, students would be able to study Chemistry in one school and head over for Mathematics classes to another school offering a different curriculum. If the student has ambitions of becoming the next big thing in international sport, music, or arts, the schools of the future would not have to compromise on the child's educational achievements.
However, schools and students in the UAE do not have to wait 10 years to disrupt education positively. It is happening now.
Dubai's Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) announced the pilot phase of 'Rahhal' - the part-time learning concept - on Sunday, as part of the Dubai 10X initiative, which is overseen by the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF).
Clifford Castro, father of Tanisha Castro, signs the contract with Ashok Kumar, in the presence of Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Khalfan Juma Belhoul (L) and C Vipul, during the inauguration of Rahhal at the Indian High School in Dubai on Sunday. - Photos by Neeraj Murali
The launch took place at the Indian High School (IHS) in Oud Metha, which is the very first educational institution in the UAE to introduce 'Rahhal' for its students. 'Rahhal' is also the first project from Dubai 10X. The testing, which began a few months ago at the IHS, has selected three students to be part of the pilot.
Indian High School students Tanisha Castro and Tanish George Mathew and their parents Clifford Castro and Viji Susan signed a contract with school authorities, officially making them a part of the Rahhal programme in the presence of KHDA officials.
Crafting the future
Introducing the concept, Khalfan Juma Belhoul, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), said: "We are planning for the future in alignment with the fourth industrial revolution. About 50 per cent of future jobs won't exist in the future due to technology and artificial intelligence, so we need to cultivate a future that can do without the jobs of today. Dubai 10X depends on the young population of UAE for its ideas."
Belhoul also clarified that there is currently no single window online portal or database for Rahhal. However, it could be implemented in the future.
Abdulla Al Karam, chairman of the Board of Directors and director general of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), said that the project works as an alternative approach to education, customised for specific needs of a learner.
He said: "The project is a hack into the system. If you ask students why they go to school, they would say it is because their parents asked them to." However, the education regulatory chief believes that 'if students attend schools part-time and use the rest of their time developing multiple skill sets, they would be far better prepared for the future.' Students will be able to study different subjects at different schools depending on the understanding between students, teachers and the schools.
Hind Al Mualla, chief of Creativity, Happiness and Innovation at the KHDA, said that the KHDA school ratings have no role and Rahhal is open to children of all age groups. "10X is about human interaction. Trust between all parties involved designs the system."
How it works
Ashok Kumar, CEO of Indian High School, said: "A contract is drawn up between the parents, the students, and the schools. There will also be a sub-committee in every school, depending on the school's needs. A proposal outlining the child's ambitions is then sent to the KHDA, after which the child can start customising his education as per his strengths."
In some cases, the schools will also be paying for the child's training in the secondary institution.
Vipul, Consul general of India to Dubai, who was present at the event, said: "The initiative will benefit the entire community of Dubai. Students of tomorrow need multiple skills sets. They need to be experts in new areas."
All you need to know about Rahhal
What is Rahhal?
Rahhal is a hack into an age-old curriculum-based education system that is sometimes considered outdated. The programme puts the power of choice into the hands of the pupils. Students get to choose their subjects of study and pay accordingly.
How does Rahhal work?
Students can now customise their learning by selecting the subjects they want to pursue a career. Students and parents need to put forward a customised education plan to a selection committee within the school, which will be submitted to KHDA. Pending approval, the student can then move from one place to the next for his classes.
A student wants to complete the basic education, but pursue a career in sport. The school will provide those students with weekend or evening classes covering sessions they've missed. Teachers will provide them with notes and other study material.
Does Rahhal exempt students from attending school?
Yes. Given the student has provided evidence to support the fact that he is gaining useful training elsewhere.
How much does it cost?
The cost of Rahhal for each child is decided according to an understanding between the school and the parents. Students may need to pay per class.
Free from examinations?
Though the training and study schedules of the students are on par with rules set by international testing authorities, students cannot lose international tests that is a mandate in their primary curriculum since it will not be rescheduled as per the convenience of the students.
Home tests can be missed, but not board examinations
Given that the training and study schedules of the students are on par with rules set by international testing authorities, students also have the freedom to miss home tests, according to Ashok Kumar, CEO of Indian High School.
He said: "For example, Rahhal students can miss home exams. That can be rescheduled. But they can't miss Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exams, which takes place once a year."
Students Tanisha Castro (14), UAE and GCC number one badminton player and Tanish George (14), a gold medallist in swimming, are two students to be part of the project from IHS. George has successfully won over 200 medals from various competitions across the world, including the Asian Age Group Championship.
"Tanish train for up to five to six hours a day and with school, it is not possible to train that hard and manage academics at the same time," said Viji George, Tanish's mother.
She added: "With Rahhal, Tanish can now select my study timings and actively pursue my sporting career."
Tanisha is also a Goa state badminton champion. She said: "I have been playing badminton since the age of five, and I eventually want to become an Olympic athlete. I train six hours a day, and Rahhal gives me the freedom to pursue the sport. "
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