Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

UAE’s e-learning scheme helps cancer survivor study during treatment

The free of charge distance learning programme helps pupils from kindergarten to grade 12 who cannot attend regular school due to medical conditions

A e-learning scheme introduced by the Ministry of Education is helping pupils to study while receiving treatment abroad. Courtesy: Alamy    
A e-learning scheme introduced by the Ministry of Education is helping pupils to study while receiving treatment abroad. Courtesy: Alamy    

An innovative e-learning scheme helping ill children continue their school studies as they receive treatment abroad has been hailed a success by the first family it helped.

The Smart platform, launched by the Ministry of Education, ensures pupils do not fall behind in their education during testing periods in their young lives.

Abdulrahman, 15, a grade 10 student of Mohammed bin Rashid secondary school for boys in Dubai, spent the past year receiving chemotherapy in the US but does not lag behind his peers in any subject now that he’s back to school full-time thanks to the support of the initiative.

“When we were to travel, Abdulrahman was worried that he would fail the year. I contacted the Ministry of Education (MoE) and raised our concerns and they told us about the e-learning programme,” said Mr Abdulhameed, the father of the child.

“He was very happy about the programme and it really helped lift up his spirits throughout the treatment.”

The Ministry of Education and the University of Texas developed an individual education plan that helped Abdulrahman cope with the demands of combining his cancer treatment and regular study routine.

“Sometimes he couldn’t study but the MoE took that into consideration and re-scheduled his classes and tests when his health permitted him to do so,” said Mr Abdulhameed.

The e-learning programme was rolled out by the ministry on a trial period in 2017-2018 when Abdulrahman was the only student. It was officially launched in 2018-2019 and nearly 150 pupils are now signed up on the platform.

The free of charge distance learning programme targets pupils from kindergarten to grade 12 who cannot attend regular school due to their medical conditions.

“Some children travel for medical reasons while others accompany a sick parent. This programme aims to help them,” said Dr Hamad Al Yahiai, the ministry’s assistant undersecretary for the curriculum and evaluation sector.

We want to assist pupils, who are seeking treatment outside the county and can’t attend school

Dr Hamad Al Yahiai

“We want to assist pupils, who are seeking treatment outside the county and can’t attend school. We don’t want them to struggle when they get back.

“We are trying to reach out to all our pupils and help them with lessons so they can keep pace with what’s happening in school.”

“The tests for pupils under this programme are designed to meet their needs, timings and are carried out as per their convenience,” the senior official said, adding that a team from the ministry keeps a check on the progress of the pupils.

The pupils can keep in touch with their classmates and teachers through the portal.

“We are currently working on making live interactions possible,” he said.

Dr Al Yahiai pointed out that the programme provides learning for pupils for as long as they are out of the country.

Parents who wish to enrol their children can easily do so by informing the school of their travel plans and the reasons behind it.

The schools have accounts on the smart learning platform and the programmes are made available to them.

The UAE has launched several initiatives to use online resources to help school children.

In 2018, Dubai unveiled an online portal, www.madrasa.org, to assist more than 50 million children across the Arabic speaking world.

About 5,000 videos with explanations and interactive content for kindergarten to year 12 can be accessed for free on the website.

The platform aims to remove the barrier that Arab pupils encounter when they search for resources and information predominantly available in English.

Updated: January 19, 2020 01:57 PM

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