x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

New technology classes to produce 'smart' pupils in the UAE

Pupils in 100 public schools will be given tablet PCs and classrooms equipped with a high speed 4G network in the next academic year.

DUBAI // Pupils in 100 public schools will be given tablet PCs and classrooms equipped with a high speed 4G network in the next academic year.

The move is part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Smart Learning, a project that aims to introduce technology-based teaching methods into the public school sector.

The project was launched in April last year with a Dh1 billion budget.

Humaid Mohammed Al Qattami, Minister of Education, said: "The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Smart Learning will enable the ministry to improve curricula, diversify sources of knowledge, enrich eContent, upgrade testing and assessment tools, introduce technology-based teaching methods, and provide schools, teachers and students with tablet computers and high speed internet network."

In its first phase, 14 schools were introduced to the project and its "Smart Classes" and the Ministry of Education has created 7,000 e-Content classes to date.

Every public school in the country will be equipped in the same way over the next five years. Education experts warn, however, that care must be taken when introducing new technology into the classroom.

"One needs to find a balance with introducing tablet PCs into education as it has its positive and negative aspects," said Fatma Al Hammoudi, a teacher development supervisor at a public school.

"While introducing tablet PCs for children will give them motivation to learn and teach them to educate themselves, it can also affect the social skills of children if it is done in too big doses and may affect their ability to communicate and develop their speech."

Hanin Ibrahim, a mother of a three-year-old boy, is also worried about the idea of tablet PCs. "They will lose their writing skills and they will get more addicted to internet and technology," she said. "This, in my opinion, is not healthy."

However, Rahaf Ahmad, a mother of two children aged 3 and 7, said: "Everything in this world is about technology so it is better that they grasp it during the school years and also learn to be proactive when studying."

wissa@thenational.ae