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Part-time schooling to give Dubai parents more control over kids' learning

Sarwat Nasir/Dubai
Filed on April 15, 2018 | Last updated on April 15, 2018 at 11.39 pm
Part-time schooling to give Dubai parents more control over kids learning

(KT file)

Parents will have more control over what their children are studying every day.


Parents must be ready for the personal responsibilities that will come following the implementation of a project that allows part-time schooling, a Dubai school principal has warned.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) will be carrying out a pilot project - likely in September - across a number of schools, where students can attend school part-time and spend the rest of their time honing their main skill set. The project is called Rahhal and was introduced under Dubai's mission to get 10 years ahead of time. Part-time schooling is just one project among many others under the Rahhal programme.

Parents will have more control over what their children are studying every day after their part-time schooling hours are over.

However, Christopher Bromham, the principal at Uptown School in Dubai, said that parents need to be aware of the responsibilities that the project will bring. "The central premise of Rahhal is the transference of the responsibility for educating an individual from the school to the parent," he said.

"Currently, parents pay schools to provide them with a professional educational service. If their children are underperforming, parents have the right to complain to the school, to hold the school accountable for following their own policies and, ultimately, exercise their right to remove their child from the school.

"Parents who enroll their children in the Rahhal programme will have far more personal responsibility for their child's academic progress. If their son or daughter is not completing assignments for their online courses, there will be little that schools will be able to do to put that right.

"If a student is underperforming on a Mathematics course at a school but not taking advantage of the schools' pastoral programme, the school's ability to remove any barriers to learning would be limited. It is vital that parents choosing to follow the Rahhal programme understand the level of responsibility that they are accepting. This is, of course, also true for the many parents in Dubai who currently homeschool their children."

Broham believes that Rahhal may not suit every student, however, it can be of great benefit for most students.

The programme will allow students to utilise the remainder of the school hours to practice a skill they are passionate about. For instance, if a student is skilled in painting, he or she can work with experts to hone that skill during school hours, all as part of Rahhal.

"For some students, the flexibility offered by Rahhal will be invaluable. It will allow them to pursue their passions and build on their talents while continuing to benefit from the services and expertise of schools. For others, it will allow them to carefully craft a bespoke set of courses that maximises their chances of achieving their ambitions."

Latha Narasimhan, a teacher in the UAE, said Rahhal can also benefit teachers, enabling them to develop effective curriculums that suit education requirements in today's technologically advanced era.

"For the teachers, it would be a great time saver and leave room for self-development and adoption of various methods of reaching out to the students when they are away from school. Out of the box thinking can be developed and the monotony of long hours of teaching can be reduced. More time can be devoted to the teachers for curriculum development and a detailed analysis of student performance. The dependence on teacher reduces with part-time schooling thereby shifting the sole responsibility from the teacher. Therefore it removes the pressure from the teacher. A well-organised part-time schooling is worth the trial in this fast-changing world of education," she said.

What is the Rahhal programme?

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) will be carrying out a pilot project - likely in September - across a number of schools, where students can attend school part-time and spend the rest of their time honing their main skill set. The project is called Rahhal and was introduced under Dubai's mission to get 10 years ahead of time. Part-time schooling is just one project among many others under the Rahhal programme.

The programme will allow students to utilise the remainder of the school hours to practice a skill they are passionate about. For instance, if a student is skilled in painting, he or she can work with experts to hone that skill during school hours, all as part of Rahhal. 

We will get more time to do things we love: Students

Part-time schooling and more time to work on relevant skill sets will teach students a sense of responsibility and leadership more effectively than regular school, UAE pupils believe.

Students who have spoken to Khaleej Times have welcomed the Rahhal programme and believe that it will bring only positive outcomes to the education industry.

Khushi Raina, a student at the ASPAM Indian International School, said that students and teachers will experience many benefits from Rahhal. "The KHDA's project to introduce part-time schools in Dubai is a welcoming and innovative step for the student and teacher communities. Students studying at such schools will be able to pursue a job while studying which will, in turn, induce in them the sense of responsibility, maturity and powerful skills like leadership, networking and communication," she said.

"Part-time teaching will equally be helpful to the teachers. Those teachers who wish to work for fewer hours, like lady teachers returning into the career from maternity leave, teachers concerned about the upbringing of their children, or teachers who take up a study course or work in any other sector may find such schools suitable. Teachers who attain maturity and get retired from full-time schools can also be benefited from such schools."

Hritika Tripathi, a student at the Delhi Private School, Sharjah, said that part-time schooling will enable students to focus on their main skills. "Part-time course can be module-based and flexible, allowing pupils to fit study around current career - without compromising personal commitments. Part-time studying can also improve career prospects by helping you gain the qualifications, skills and experience needed to flourish and progress in the modern workplace. This may be one of the reasons why the KHDA is working on this project," she said.

"It can provide educational opportunities throughout student's lives, increase social mobility, as well as help create a more diverse and responsive higher education sector while giving students greater choice and enhancing their higher education experience."

Dhanvi Sayani, a student at the Gems Our Own English High School, Dubai, said: "The KHDA's part-time school plan can be very helpful to the students in many ways. Students can have a very relaxed and stress-free schedule because of less schooling hours. The decrease in school hours also can allow students to join classes for extra-curricular activities and sports which can imbibe various good values like teamwork and hardworking in them and also help them to develop a hobby or skill."   

Time spent in school may become part-time, learning will not be

Christopher Bromham, Principal, Uptown School, Dubai

Schooling and learning are not limited to the classroom, students learn a significant amount outside of any formal learning activity. They learn from reading at home, they learn from activities and clubs that they undertake at the weekend and they learn constantly from their parents, relatives and wider social circle. In that sense, schooling can never be part-time.

The new Rahhal initiative aims for the wider learning to be recognised and valued. Many of our students already study their mother tongue language on a Saturday morning, take violin lessons in the evenings and increasing of them learn from an online course during the holidays. All these activities already contribute to how well educated a young person becomes. The Rahhal initiative allows parents to have more control over the balance between learning inside the school and outside. So while the time spent in school may become part-time, learning will not.

In essence, Rahhal has many similarities with the distance learning that adults all over the world are engaged in. It is common for professionals to build their own programme of learning through online materials, webinars, face-to-face meetings, etc. Rahhal provides students with the flexibility to find a way of learning and a mix of content that works for them. Within the IB Diploma course, there is already the facility for students to undertake online courses and self-study modules for essential elements of their diploma.

The Rahhal initiative is certainly not for everyone. Educational institutions and professionals create carefully crafted curricula, that provide students with a basis of knowledge to set them up for success in later life. There is also a high degree of choice built into the most high-quality curricula, that allows students to tailor their learning to their interests as they get older. However, there will always be students whose needs stand outside of the unavoidable constraints of full-time schooling. Elite student-athletes will need significant time to dedicate to their chosen sport, students of determination may need extra support from outside agencies and children whose parents travel widely may need to rely on far more flexible programmes. For these students, Rahhal will provide a pathway to success.

The introduction of Rahhal will require schools to think of new ways of working and new ways of thinking about collaboration with parents and other schools. In many parts of the world, schools will work in consortium with other schools in order to provide a greater breadth of choice, especially in the sixth form. One way forward would be for schools to work together to allow students to pick up different elements of their education at different schools.

Will part-time schooling be beneficial?

Currently, over 1,500 schools all over the world have extended their school hours for their studies. This affects the child's mental, physical as well as social life. Moreover, educators' responsibilities increase, making them stressed out. Both, the students as well as the educators, will have a hard going about the day. The KHDA's plan will definitely be a success because the days will be modified to the capacity that they can actually hold throughout the day.

Sravya Nagalakunta, Indian High School

The KHDA initiative can benefit both teachers and students because students can learn and understand the contents of a particular topic in depth. Additionally, teachers would also be benefitted as they would get more time to prepare for topics that are to be taught the next day. I am astonished to know that most of the schools in England and other European countries are following part-time schools for students.

Arun Sinnamari, Our Own English High School, Fujairah

Under the KHDA initiative, students would get more time to learn. Moreover, they can involve themselves in other activities like piano or badminton. The child's thinking capacity would also increase and they would learn how to live in this complex world. As most of the students only learn what is in their curriculum an initiative like this is appreciable. I request all schools to follow part-time schools. Students should also use their time wisely and not waste time.

Karan Sinnamari, Our own English High school Fujairah

 

sarwat@khaleejtimes.com 





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