The UAE’s education sector is rapidly growing and evolving.
The country will require 150 additional schools by 2022 to cater to the growing number of children, according to a report released by research firm Alpen Capital.
The UAE’s student population is expected to reach 1.5 million by 2022, with enrolment stated to grow at 3.4 per cent.
Although the industry is booming, schools in the country continue to face some challenges.
“Relevance and providing an education that supports people throughout their lives is a major challenge,” opines Matthew Tompkins, the principal and CEO of GEMS FirstPoint School (FPS) in Dubai.
Providing an education that prepares children for the world of work is tough when it is difficult to predict what the future workplace will look like, he adds.
By 2025, more than half of all current workplace tasks will be performed by machines, according to the World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs 2018 report.
However, 133 million new jobs are expected to be created by 2022 compared to 75 million that will be displaced, the report explained.
“Schools and their curricular offerings must reflect the current trends in industry and provide students with the softer skills that they will need to use on a daily basis to be successful at work,” explains Tompkins.
“Students need to learn to communicate effectively, support others through working as a team, develop a purposeful work ethic, and learn to lead, listen, be adaptable and flexible.
“Young people need to develop these skills both at school and in the workplace, and in both locations have access to industry experts who can support their development,” he adds.
The UAE has already started taking steps on a policy-level with the introduction of smart learning programmes, new teacher codes and licencing and evaluation systems, as well as curriculum revisions.
A key area of focus has been to transform K-12 programmes, to ensure that students are fully prepared to attend universities around the world and compete in the global marketplace.
Tompkins is spearheading his school’s transition towards this approach of education, with GEMS FPS now appointed the lead school for industry and school links as part of Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority’s (KHDA) Rahhal programme.
“We are working in partnership with a number of globally and locally recognisable companies to provide a totally integrated and individualised curriculum for every student at our school,” he explains.
Students at the school begin integrating theory and practical knowledge from as young as five, with guidance from guest speakers, internships and supported learning programmes.
Although new for the region, the push to amalgamate education with industry has created positive ripples, with FPS seeing growing interest from corporates.
“We are still a relatively young school, and still have a way to go, but we are excited to lead this evolution of schooling and quickly become recognised as the best school in Dubai,” adds Tompkins.
To find out more about the school and the courses offered, click here