UAE: Speed, variety that digital education provides is critical in delivering content, says minister

Technology is pervasive, giving the education sector a facelift reaching out to people who may not have the same opportunities, pushing the boundaries of knowledge


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Tue 14 Feb 2023, 11:47 PM

Last updated: Tue 14 Feb 2023, 11:57 PM

Some of the fundamental components of digital education are inclusivity, equity and accessibility, says Huda AlHashimi, Deputy Minister of Cabinet Affairs for Strategic Affairs.

While speaking at the Future of Digital Education: Opportunities and Challenges, on the second day of the World Government Summit, Huda AlHashimi, Deputy Minister of Cabinet Affairs for Strategic Affairs, said, "I think a big myth is that people confuse digital education with traditional education. It's the same as traditional education but in a digital format. Therefore, I want to summarise it into three main areas."

Underlining how technologies have shown a powerful impact on the sector, especially in the light of the recent pandemic, which further institutionalised the applications of digital tools, she added, "I truly believe that the main attributes that digital education can provide to societies are that first is variety. We know the curricula are constantly changing.

"There are demands for new subjects. Today it is AI. Tomorrow, we don't know what it's going to be. The speed and variety that digital education can provide in the content are critical. That's not something you can get in a traditional format, especially when it comes to speed."

She pointed out how technology is pervasive, giving the education sector a facelift by reaching out to people who may not have the same opportunities and pushing the boundaries of knowledge that'll help shape future generations.

"The second area is equity. It is an important aspect that digital education provides. Digital school is about providing equity to unprivileged societies, communities and refugees that don't have access to the same quality of education that others do. So, what digital school has provided is the same level playing field for everyone to prosper," added AlHashimi.

She noted that the world is aware that the uses of technologies have accelerated during the pandemic. "The third factor is accessibility."

"We learn that, especially with Covid. The transformation really did shine. It's not a matter of either or…online or traditional. After Covid, it's a hybrid and it's the marriage between both. How can we benefit by integrating these two together? Accessibility will lead to true innovation and that's where we can benefit from."

What value do we place on our educators?

Shining the spotlight on how technology alone cannot be a miracle worker, Sarah Al Ameri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, Chairperson of the UAE Space Agency, highlighted “the value we place on educators”.

In another WGS session titled, Preparing and Empowering the Education Workforce, Al Ameri underlined while personalising learning using digital technologies has become important, it is also imperative that we don’t lose sight of the “educators” delivering the different learning models.

She said, “Teachers should be able to transform skills and develop them, to know how to differentiate between the different opportunities that exist within a single classroom and can adapt and understand the world around them.”

“What is really important today is creating the right environment in schools. In the same way, the other jobs are attractive for people to have a career in, so should the education sector create that necessary environment at the level of every single school,” she added.

She reiterates that when societies can achieve that, only then will the field of education be able to attract the best talent in the sector.

Al Ameri said, “Pay is a challenge, but that’s not the only one. There is a multitude of other factors that need to be present to be able to able to create the right environment for teachers, to have conducive learning. Technology is not the only solution; it goes back to pedagogical practice that every single teacher is trained on; it is ultimately important in being able to convey… not only the knowledge to the students but, more importantly, the ability to utilise that knowledge effectively in various scenarios and how to develop the necessary skills, be it collaboration or adaptability… that is of utmost importance for our children and what they need to graduate with.”


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