x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Pupils start new year in Dh100m campus

The new campus cost Dh100 million to develop and, some day, all schools in the emirate will look just like it, says Adec.

Kandance Johnson works with Sagr Samin at Mezyed School in Al Ain.
Kandance Johnson works with Sagr Samin at Mezyed School in Al Ain.

AL AIN // Nearly 800,000 children returned to schools across the country yesterday, but not all of them arrived to find a new Dh100 million campus.

The pupils of Mezyed School did. It was one of 21 new campuses opened by Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) this year.

The school will cater to boys and girls from Grades 1 to 3 who had previously attended four primary schools that Adec shut down last year.

"The idea was to create a space that would promote creativity, communication and personal development, encourage science and research and allow collaboration," said Eman Al Marzouqi, section manager for planning, infrastructure and facilities at Adec.

"These are not only Adec-operated buildings, but can also be used by the community after school hours."

Maitha Hamed, 8, could not stop admiring the books stacked on multicoloured shelves and the little play area set up for daily activities.

"This classroom is so big," said Maitha. "It is so beautiful and, look: I can see outside, there is a garden."

The Grade 3 pupil previously attended a government school where the classroom was no bigger than 50 square metres. She now has ample space to display her creativity in a 75-square-metre room.

When she is not studying, she can pursue music, art and sports in the multipurpose halls, sports arena and theatre that are part of her new school.

In a central courtyard, a spiral of solar panels is surrounded by walls of living plants that will be used to teach the children about botany and renewable energy.

Old state schools traditionally involved long, dark corridors, poor lighting and ventilation and rows upon rows of desks. Many did not have areas for extra-curricular activities or labs and they were certainly not equipped with technology.

"Now, the bright colours, maze-style corridors and the props will make them want to come to school and learn," Mrs Al Marzouqi said.

Teachers will be using smart boards and other multimedia resources provided in each classroom.

The ample resources are coupled with an energy efficient strategy.

"The school has 132 thermal panels and solar panels to generate a part of the energy required in the school," said Mrs Al Marzouqi.

The solar panels can generate enough renewable energy to light up all the classrooms, which is about 10 per cent of the school's total energy demands. And sensor lights in the classroom will ensure minimum wastage.

Moreover, effective landscaping, fixtures and appliances as well as the use of recycled water will reduce demand for potable water by 20 per cent in these schools.

"Another unique feature is the carbon dioxide sensor which detects if there is a high percentage in the air, and oxygen is immediately dispersed to maintain the balance of fresh air," Mrs Al Marzouqi said.

Salima Al Ghaithi, the principal of the school, said it was "impossible to compare the new building to the old campus".

"It is like heaven and earth. It is open and age-appropriate," she said. "There is everything that a child needs to develop here: the green space for environment lessons and sports area for physical development as well."

Mezyed has been created around Adec's New School Model that was introduced last year to modernise the public education system and step-up bilingual education.

Kandance Johnson, a newly hired teacher, said she came from Florida to take up the challenge of teaching English to Grade 3 boys. "It is a whole new experience and I intend on doing a lot of practical work to get them started.

"I will be pairing pupils for group activities and plan to involve the parents in their daily work by sending newsletters with updates."

Hazza Salim Al Kathi, who dropped off his siblings, Abdulla and Azza, at their new school, said he was very impressed.

"I have seen their old schools and they were just plain and uninspiring," he said.

"I love the style here. It is almost like a university."