UAE rains: Power outages, technical issues for some students continuing distance learning

Many students wade through waist-deep water to head to neighbour's house for online classes


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Fri 19 Apr 2024, 6:00 AM

Numerous students are heading to the homes of relatives and friends to do their online classes due to power outages affecting various neighbourhoods across the UAE.

The country experienced heavy rain and thunderstorms on Tuesday, April 16, resulting in unprecedented floods that impacted lives, neighbourhoods, homes, and critical infrastructure.

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Consequently, the government has extended distance learning for the week. Even for those who have a power supply in their home and have the intention to learn, online classes are being interrupted by technical difficulties they are encountering.

Khaleej Times reached out to a cross-section of people to understand the challenges that they are facing.

Sharjah resident and university student, Aiman Waheed and her sister had to wade through waist-deep water to reach their uncle’s house in an hour that is otherwise a 15-minute walk from their home.

“My 12-year-old sister and I have been attending online classes from our relative’s house in Sharjah. There has been a complete power cut at my place for the past few days now due to the heavy rains,” said Waheed.

Since time is critical in senior years with lengthy syllabi to cover, the sisters are making the extra effort to continue with their classes despite all odds.

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Waheed said, “I have classes from 10am to 1pm and my sister has remote classes from 7.30am to 2.30pm. She has continuous classes with PowerPoint presentations as well.

"These are challenging times and we hope we can return to our routine soon, as this isn’t the best situation to be in as it poses challenges for everybody,” she added.

Community comes together

Residents explained that dependence on technology for remote learning becomes particularly difficult during such situations when essential services like electricity are disrupted.

A resident of Greens, Baishali Mukherji, said, “We've had no power since 16 April. But we were fortunate that we had good friends who took us in, and my son was able to study there. We don’t expect any electricity until later on Friday. On the other hand, I went looking for workspace that has been the Costa cafe in Greens since yesterday.”

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Supplied photo

Mukherji’s friend Aarti Akula who has been hosting her friends’ children since Wednesday highlighted how some of the buildings in her community have been severely affected by the heavy rainfall.

“For two consecutive days, a few of my friends have been without electricity in their homes, and their vehicles in the basement are almost submerged. The least I can do is help my friends," said Akula.

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

"Therefore, I've invited their children to my home along with their devices, as we're fortunate to have power here. Now, all the children, including my son, are studying in separate rooms in my apartment,” she added.

Technical glitches

While learning continues online for most students, disruption in internet and outages in many areas have impacted children’s virtual sessions.

Fathimath Manal, mother of two children in grade 5 and 2 respectively said, “We're encountering technical glitches preventing our kids from consistently logging into classes. They manage a few sessions but struggle after the third period. “

The parents have been relying on their children’s classmates' notes for missed material.

“But this is affecting their work completion. This issue has persisted since day one, worsening on some days. We're concerned about them falling behind. It's not their fault; technical issues persist despite our efforts. We hope the school provides support to ensure they don't miss out on learning opportunities,” said Manal.


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