Yogesh Dalvi is Post Graduate Diploma holder from Symbiosis Pune, with over 14 years of experience in handling Nationwide Business Operations while employed in the capacity of National Head Operations and Administration in leading educational institutes in India like Podar Group of Schools, EuroSchool International Ltd. (as Regional Head) and EuroKids International Pvt. Ltd. (now Lighthouse Learning Pvt. Ltd.) and. He has been successful in achieving the operational goals, in K12 sector, for 10 consecutive years and helped the schools grow in leaps and bounds across the nation. He has also successfully completed the Managing Safely® program by IOSH, designed to measure and implement safety protocols for students and staff at school.
Impact of COVID on K12 sector in UAE
I have recently relocated to Al Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, to lead the operations team of Eminence Private School – A leading CBSE school in Fujairah, from the house of Sadhbhavana Group, Kerala (India).
I have faced the worst stage of pandemics (for educational institutions) in India, which is the second most populous country in the world and about 25% of adults are deprived of even a primary education. UAE is a classic example that being a country with a sparse population and a high literacy rate helps in the overall development of the country.
COVID 19 has had a kindred impact on the UAE and its education system as rest of the world, in the initial stage, but UAE could handle this far better because of its tremendously advanced technology.
Education Market in UAE
The education system in the United Arab Emirates is very dynamic, with more than 16 curricula offered by the private school in the United Arab Emirates, helping the country to have above average educational results. According to a survey conducted in 2017, the majority of the citizens as well as expatriates (i.e. about 73%)
A Recent market research indicates that the UAE private education market is the most mature market among all GCC countries, but it can still grow further. Enrollment CAGR is expected to be around 2% over the next five years (2021-2025), and the factors influencing growth are an increase in the number of expatriates, an increase in enrollment, an improvement in the quality of education, and an increase in the shift from public to private schools, although while the annual revenue of the UAE private education market has shown an upward trajectory in the past five years, the shortage of skilled teachers and other workforce may be an impediment to growth.
What parents feel
The sudden outbreak of COVID in the year 2019 forced the educators and students to quickly adapt to a new mode of learning i.e. distance / virtual learning. The K12 community is now adapting faster to this new normal mode. Parents are now considering distance education as a new and preferred mode of learning. In fact, after having children study from home for almost one and half year, some parents are even considering homeschooling as an option, even the Ministry of Education, UAE gives an option of homeschool from Grade 7 to 12 (above 14 years of age).
According to a recent one-day survey by the Ministry of Education, about 59% of parents in UAE still prefer distance learning for their children. Some of the major players in the K12 market in the Middle East have started to develop curricula and plans to offer distance education from KG to grade 12, because distance education will be an affordable option for parents, i.e. a parent who cannot enroll their child in branded schools can always choose a distance education program and benefit from the same curriculum at an affordable price.
What Happening in K12 sector in UAE.
These big funders have started setting up distance learning/self-learning kits, where students get books, stationery, some toys and equipment for daily class activities throughout the year. Parents can choose to purchase these kits directly from the school or online from Amazon or any E-Com partner, at a much lower price than what is available in the market.
With so many EdTech companies entering the UAE market offering online lessons for advanced subjects like STEAM, AI and coding, which are the “must-have skills” to survive in the times ahead, parents are somewhere losing focus from the overall physical development of the child which is necessary for the inhabitation of a sound mind. In a study led by University of Montreal psychologist Marie-José Harbeck, students who engage in more physical activities (sports) in early childhood are less likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety in middle childhood.
On one hand, as the leaders in the K12 market have begun to develop virtual learning approaches, leading EdTech companies are also keen to acquire the K12 segment. Most EdTech experts have chosen the coaching industry to embrace one of the country’s highest population groups (i.e. the age group from 2 to 14 years old).
Also, the parent needs to understand the loss that their child will incur when deprived of classroom learning. As per a recent survey conducted by a leading education foundation on 16000 students in Indian primary schools, 92% of the children have lost at least one language ability, while 82% have lost math skills.
To conclude, the changes we see in the K12 sector today are inevitable and one must go with the flow, this reminds me of the experience narrated by Kevin Kelly in his bestselling book ‘The Inevitable: Understanding the Twelve Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future’, how the simple Apple II computer was also useful to him In 1981, but as he was quoted, his opinion completely changed when the same computer was connected to a phone line (the Internet). There was a nascent world on the other side of the phone jack, and it was huge, almost limitless.