Four children in UAE skip classrooms to learn life lessons
Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, with the Wahed family on Sunday. - Wam
Their father Abdul Wahed told Khaleej Times that he was tired of seeing his children confined all day long in a classroom.
By Sarwat Nasir
Published: Mon 14 Jan 2019, 8:15 PM
Last updated: Mon 14 Jan 2019, 10:18 PM
An Emirati family in Sharjah is homeschooling their kids as part of a project that allows students to break out of the barriers of traditional schooling.
The Wahed family on Sunday met His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, as they are among the first to opt for the homeschooling option through the Rahhal project.
Rahhal has been implemented by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). Two other students enrolled in the programme are allowed to spend majority of their time away from school, getting ahead in their chosen career paths.
As for the Wahed family, the four kids - Sultan, 13, Lulwa, 11, Rashid, 9, and Dana, 7 - started homeschooling in September. Their father Abdul Wahed told Khaleej Times that he was tired of seeing his children confined all day long in a classroom.
"We've always wanted to homeschool our children, but there was no proper certification here that allowed us to do that. When we heard about Rahhal and the option it gave to parents and students, we knew we had our answer," Abdul said. "My children are talented and we can't waste their talent in a normal school. They now have more time to spend at clubs, developing their main skills."
The kids start off their homeschool routine every day at 8am, and they spend two to three hours studying subjects such as reading, writing and maths.
They spend the rest of their day with home tutors and at museums, libraries and other venues that offer some kind of educational value.
"We're spending more than what we were spending at a regular school. Now, we spend Dh45,000 just on the teachers whom we have hired for our children. This excludes the daily outdoor activities and books. Even though we are paying more, we are getting more value for the money. For example, they are learning so much more from the art and programming courses they have joined," Abdul said.
The long-term plan for the family is to nurture the main talent of each child through homeschooling and help them pursue it as a career later on, he added.
Homeschooling isn't the only option under the Rahhal project. It also allows students to attend school part-time and dedicate majority of their hours developing their key skills and talents.
For example, Khaleej Times previously reported the story of two Dubai pupils who are travelling around the world - missing more than three months of school this academic year - to compete in sports tournaments. They make up for their schoolwork and exams whenever they are in Dubai.
The project by the KHDA was announced last year and is under Dubai's 10X Initiative, which aims to get the emirate 10 years ahead and revolutionise various sectors, including education.
What is the Rahhal initiative?
Rahhal, which means 'traveller' in Arabic, spreads the message that the world is a classroom, and all learning counts. It provides a creative and innovative alternative to mainstream education.
It is a fully customisable platform that helps turn anyone, and any organisation, into a learning provider, and turn all the residents into lifelong learners. It is a platform that helps integrate learning with life, and life with learning.
The project diversifies the choices for parents who wish to supplement their children's education; and it will provide adults with a flexible, modular form of learning that can be used to move their careers forward or enrich their lives.
KT NANO EDIT
It is heartening that the KHDA has introduced initiatives, such as Rahhal, that allow freedom in the sphere of education. While allowing students to learn at their own pace, such efforts provide the young ones with the much-needed time to relax and study without competition and one-upmanship coming into play.