Home-based, virtual or part-time schooling? Pupils take their pick

With the availability of options comes the difficult task of making the right decision.

Dubai’s education sector is seeing a major transformation as it moves from traditional schooling to virtual, home-based and part-time schooling.

This has been made possible through a project called Rahhal, which was launched by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

More choices are now available to students and parents – pupils can attend a regular school, go for the virtual alternative or learn at home. They can also opt for part-time schooling, which allows them to spend majority of their time gaining experience and developing their talents. Several kids are already doing so, as Khaleej Times has reported previously.

With the availability of options comes the difficult task of making the right decision. Even though virtual schooling and homeschooling are part of the choices – both of which eliminate a physical school – nearly 15 students wrote to Khaleej Times saying they prefer a part-time school. They weighed in on the different choices that are now available to them.

A Grade 11 student at The Indian High School, Kajal Abhay Narsian, said: “I feel that part-time schooling would be better and beneficial for me, as I would be able to focus on my studies in school and other co-scholastic areas. I can do my assignments as well as other activities, such as drawing, which is one of my hobbies.

“Homeschooling wouldn’t help me that much as there will be a lot of distractions. Virtual schooling is also good but limits must be established and students should learn from the right Internet sites. Spending more time on screens may also lead to poor eyesight. Therefore, I consider part-time schooling the best option for me.”

A student at Gulf Model School in Dubai, Anaswara Anish, also prefers part-time schooling as she believes it will help her develop the social skills required in the job market.

Anish feels that it will also provide her with the opportunity to hone the skills that can be pursued as a career later on.

Another student at The Indian High School, Honey Mathew, said: “Part-time schooling gives students time to focus on their studies, as well as expand their creative and experimental minds. One can always try to envision a time when students weren’t put under so much pressure and were instead given the time for innovation and invention. In part-time schooling, schedules are more flexible, allowing us to spend some recreational time with our family and friends, too.”

Some students, on the other hand, said they would prefer attending a virtual school as it offers a personalised learning solution and a chance to interact with students from around the world.

A student at Gulf Model School, Athulva Anil, said: “The main benefits of this schooling is that it increases the flexibility to meet individual needs. We can group the knowledge in a more balanced technology. Although we don’t see our classmates daily, we can form better connections with people we interact with every day. It also allows us to access different courses.”

None of the students who wrote in showed interest in pursuing their studies in a homeschool environment.

Hritika Tripathi, a student at the Delhi Private School in Sharjah, believes “homeschooling is not the right system for a child to grow up in”.

“It doesn’t enhance a child’s social growth. They tend to be shy and more on the quieter side. However, some parents feel that homeschooling provides a better learning experience for their children. It is also a cheaper option,” she said.

Khaleej Times previously reported a story of four Emirati children who are now being homeschooled under the Rahhal project. Their father said homeschooling is not just about learning in the comforts of a home, it is also about making the most of every day.

Such a set-up has given the kids more time to take up specialised courses they are interested in and join clubs or organisations that share their passion, he said.
Schools and parents are required to get a licence and approval from the KHDA in order to be part of Rahhal.

sarwat@khaleejtimes.com

Gifted kids to benefit most from KHDA project: Educator

Students who are gifted and those who have an entrepreneurial mindset will benefit from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority’s (KHDA) Rahhal project, educators believe.

Three Dubai students, who are part of the programme, spend more than three months away from school as they take part in international sport tournaments.

One virtual school has been granted a licence to operate in Dubai and four Emirati students are being homeschooled under Rahhal.

Nargish Khambatta, principal of GEMS Modern Academy, said: “Children who are playing and performing at the national and state level, who are gifted and pursuing their passion, who have an entrepreneurial mindset, and those who want alternative avenues, will certainly benefit from the Rahhal project.

“What was a difficult proposition until now has thoughtfully been woven into the fabric of the education system in Dubai. The swimmers, cricketers, athletes, musicians, actors and inventors will all benefit immensely. Schools have always been providing support to their students and may need to make only minor adjustments to create online platforms that will sustain the academic input.”

She said students who will be away from school for extended periods of time will need the additional support to ensure they do not miss out on the learning.

“When you have an educational regulatory body that is forward-thinking and focuses on the children’s best interests and their well-being, the outcomes are bound to be beneficial,” Khambatta said.

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