By Gavin Gibbon
CEO Sahar Cooper says they are 'definitely' looking to provide a virtual schooling environment
Abu Dhabi-based Aldar Education is looking into continuing to offer distance learning even once schools are reopened and coronavirus is no longer a serious threat.
All schools throughout the UAE have been closed since the middle of March as part of government measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, with teachers conducting classes remotely.
While it is hoped the school curriculum can return to normal for the start of the new term in September, Aldar Education CEO Sahar Cooper told Arabian Business, distance learning is an avenue they are currently exploring.
She said: “I see a segment of parents or students who perhaps don’t have the access to quality education or their personal circumstances forces them or encourages them to utilise distance learning and I think that would be key for the future.
“We have already started before this crisis to develop a programme, but we have had to accelerate the finalising of this programme and we are definitely looking to provide a virtual schooling environment after these circumstances in September.”
Aldar currently has just under 3,000 teachers supporting 7,500 students across seven academies and nurseries in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
The company, which invested AED10 million in IT infrastructure, has given parents a 20 percent discount on school fees for term three, with a further five percent offered to families who have been particularly impacted by Covid-19.
Aldar Education has also purchased thousands of iPads and laptops to support students who did not have access to remote learning.
Cooper admitted that cost of continuing with some form of distance learning, from a business perspective and from a parents’ point of view, still had to be finalised as they work with school officials and legislators in the emirate.
“We’re still working out the details, but I think with the current circumstances we have shown to the public that we have been working with them,” she said.
“It’s too early to say at the moment. This is a programme we are currently working out and we want to see how we achieve the balance between the outstanding quality of education and the social element of education, which students need.
“It’s early days but it’s definitely a priority item on the agenda.”