On Wednesday, the Ministry of Education took the extraordinary step of declaring that all schools and universities across the country – including private and public schools – will be closed for four weeks beginning from Sunday, March 8.
The move comes as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of coronavirus, and during this period all schools will be sterilized.
Spring break, which was due to begin on March 29, will instead begin on March 8 and last two weeks.
However, public and private schools across the country began to put in place learn-from-home programmes to ensure continuity of education even before the announcement was made earlier today.
On Monday, UAE’s Ministry of Education confirmed that it had decided to pilot a learn-from-home programme in all government schools titled ‘Learning from Afar’ for students from Grades 6-12 beginning today.
The ministry directed school administrations to launch an awareness campaign on distance education for parents, students, teachers and administrators and also asked that parents create an appropriate learning environment at home by providing internet services, and resources like computers, tablets, and smartphones, reported news agency WAM.
Some private schools in the country began to put in place their own systems to facilitate learn-from-home for its students a few days before the announcement by the MoE.
According to a report on The National, Taaleem which runs 10 private schools in Dubai, last week began testing its learn-from home tools including live streaming, virtual classrooms, and the use of tools like Microsoft Teams – an e-platform that allows users to chat, collaborate, store files, and conduct video interactions.
Schools run by Ambassador Education reportedly already use Google Classroom – and online service that helps create and grade assignments, and Microsoft Teams too.
For younger primary students in some private schools, ClassDojo was being used as a means for parents and teachers to communicate.
Apart from private and public schools designing learn from home programmes, there is also a significant number of families who have opted to homeschool their children. To facilitate the homeschooling, available to parents and children are online schools like iCademy Middle East and further e-learning resources like Khan Academy and Clonlara.
Homeschooling is recognized by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
Besides, the MoE in the UAE has also said on their website that they have their own homeschooling system under which eligible students are not required to attend regular classes. The educational zone in the respective emirate provides students enrolled under this programme with the books and the required learning materials.
At the end of the semester, the students will sit for class exams as set by the Assessment and Examinations Department and the Continuous Learning Department in the MoE.
The successful completion of a home-school education in the UAE, it adds, is equivalent to graduation from any regular public school in the UAE.