Dubai: Inside a school that follows new education model

Currently, there are two Dubai Schools in the emirate — one in Al Barsha and other in Mirdif.

The new model of education that Dubai Schools has introduced is gaining popularity — so much so that the government had to increase its enrolment capacity by 50 per cent for its first academic year.

Currently, there are two Dubai Schools in the emirate — one in Al Barsha and other in Mirdif. What makes the education they offer unique? What makes learning here different?

Dubai Schools Al Barsha recently granted Khaleej Times a chance to tour its sprawling campus, bright classrooms and state-of-the-art facilities.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Emirate, was on the same campus a couple of weeks ago. He reviewed the progress of the Dubai Schools project, which he himself launched in March.

For students and staff, Sheikh Hamdan’s presence had been nothing short of “exhilarating”, said Dr Joseph Kotarski, the founding superintendent of Dubai Schools, Al Barsha. “Welcoming Sheikh Hamdan to the school was a unique privilege that we were able to have. Students and staff of all levels worked together to make sure that the final touches were put on the school,” Kotarski said.

The Dubai Crown Prince was able to see first hand how the school has been blending the English and Arabic curricula to fulfil its modern education model.

“We were able to show Sheikh Hamdan some classes for early-year learning and older students who have been studying the Arabic language in a modern pedagogy,” Kotarski added.

The US curriculum school, which specifically follows the New York State Common Core Learning Standards (NYSED), is currently open to students from preschool to Grade 4.

The Dubai Schools project, which follows the international standards of education, seeks to preserve the Emirati culture and Islamic values. It will ensure students’ access to modern science and technology at an affordable cost.

Inside the classrooms on Al Barsha campus were enthusiastic learners that were all masked up, seated in rows of wooden desks and chairs. Their walls were brightened up with interesting posters, diagrams and rules in both Arabic and English.

“Any new school opening requires a lot of team effort and our community did a fantastic job, particularly in managing Covid regulations,” Kotarski said.

“The fact that a lot of children were coming back to in-person learning after a long time was a key part of the experience,” he added.

Christina Nasser, an Arabic teacher who flew out of her home country Lebanon for the first time, said: “The first two weeks were a little challenging but the students are really smart. I certainly feel a lot of positive vibes here in the school…from the students, the staff and the mentors.

“I encourage the children to be smart and intuitive. We tell them to not rely on rote learning but to develop cognitive skills and get to the next level as early as possible. It has been a good experience so far.”

Nandini Sircar

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