Sheikh Mohammed inaugurates The Digital School at Expo 2020 Dubai Sheikh Mohammed inaugurates The Digital School at Expo 2020 Dubai
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Sheikh Mohammed inaugurates The Digital School at Expo 2020 Dubai

Sheikh Mohammed inaugurates The Digital School at Expo 2020 Dubai

Over 20,000 students will be registered in the first year, with the goal of increasing the number of students to one million in the next five years

Divsha Bhat

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, inaugurated the first operational phase of The Digital School in five countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Mauritania and Colombia. The announcement was made during a special event held at Expo 2020 Dubai, official news agency WAM reported.

The Digital School adopts the latest technology applications, artificial intelligence and educational tools to fulfil the educational needs of the students benefiting from the initiative. Over 20,000 students will be registered in the first year, with the goal of increasing the number of students to one million in the next five years.

Sheikh Mohammed said: “Our goal is to bring digital learning to new horizons as it is the education of the future and the future of education.”

“In line with international standards in its educational and knowledge content, The Digital School articulates our belief that education is a right for all and that equal educational opportunities are the basis of comprehensive and sustainable development,” he added.

Sheikh Mohammed also noted that “The Digital School seeks to enhance the future of education, ensure continuous innovation, and promote digital learning as a strategic investment for the future.”

The inaugural event was attended by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

The event highlighted the school’s objectives in its first year to reach students in five countries, train 500 teachers, set up 120 learning centres, and provide educational content in three languages: Arabic, French and Spanish. The school also provides distance education in an innovative and flexible format, so students can join wherever they are, focusing on the less fortunate, the disadvantaged and refugees in Arab nations and across the globe. Students can benefit from the ‘digital tutor’ to support them in their study plan and follow up on their educational progress, with the provision of a comprehensive assessment mechanism within the learning stages. It provides digital study and supporting materials that are compatible with the Arab and international curricula and offers an opportunity to interact with several licenced teachers and their colleagues through virtual classrooms.

The school’s system consists of six key components: interactive digital content, learning technology appropriate to the application environment, professional development for teachers and education facilitators, local and international partnerships to achieve the sustainability of digital education, an education model that promotes independent learning skills, and continuous data assessment and evaluation.

Strategic partnerships
Meanwhile, the Digital School has signed agreements of support and strategic cooperation. The school has concluded agreements with charity, humanitarian and knowledge institutions, such as the Awqaf & Minors Affairs Foundation in Dubai, which allocated a sustainable endowment whose proceeds will help disseminate education; the Emirates Red Crescent Authority to establish 1,000 learning centres affiliated to Digital School within the next five years; a strategic cooperation agreement with Arizona State University as a strategic partner in the training and capacity building of teachers; and Microsoft to collaborate in providing and developing modern digital education solutions for the school.

Furthermore, it has signed strategic memoranda of understanding with many institutions and entities concerned with the future of digital education and innovation, including the Mobile Learning Alliance, the World Food Program, Dubai Cares, and Amazon.

The Digital School has an international advisory board that comprises international experts from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the international ‘Generation Unlimited’ initiative, a global partnership that aims to ensure that young men and women around the world are enrolled in education, training or employment by 2030; Harvard University; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of New South Wales Sydney; Arizona State University; and the Brookings Institution.

The Digital School also seeks to empower teaching communities, educators and to assist in the professional development of teachers, educational leaders and education facilitators through a broad training programme in partnership with Arizona State University to qualify 1,500 digital teachers over the next three years. The training programme includes a dedicated module for teachers, education facilitators, school principals and education officials. It offers a mixed learning course that combines self-learning and coaching for up to six months, after which the trainees who meet the requirements will receive a certificate issued by the school and approved by the Arizona State University. It is available in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.

Maysa Jalbout, the special adviser to the president of Arizona State University, stressed that the university is keen on a strategic partnership with the Digital School initiative, with its humanitarian goals of bringing digital learning to students in remote and developing regions. She added that she hopes the partnership will help to engage students in camps and underprivileged communities towards exemplary and continuous digital learning paths.

Sayed Hashish, general manager of Microsoft UAE: “There is no greater impact than providing vital learning experiences for a generation of future leaders and pioneers of the next transformation in the fields of technology. That is why we seek to improve teachers’ access to solutions and courses in underserved areas at the regional level.”

Sheikh Mohammed launched The Digital School in November 2020, under the umbrella of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, as a strategic educational initiative aimed at providing digital learning options for students, especially in remote and developing areas.

“We aim to provide students, especially those living in refugee camps, war zones and disadvantaged communities, with the highest quality of education in the best way possible. Digital education is the future. We need to adapt to the rapidly-changing educational sphere. Our contribution to developing educational platforms is our real investment in the future of young people,” Sheikh Mohammed had said then.

Read: Sheikh Mohammed launches digital school initiative aiming to reach a million students in five years

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