The National 

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, set out the agenda for the future of education as a renewed call was made for school staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Sheikh Abdullah chaired a virtual meeting of the Education and Human Resources Council.

During the meeting, Minister of State for Public Education Jameela Al Muhairi reviewed plans to develop vaccination protocols for the country’s schools.

Ms Al Muhairi stressed the importance of widespread inoculation in ensuring a safe and healthy school community.

Earlier this month, Sheikh Abdullah urged teachers and other school employees to take the Covid-19 vaccine to support a return to normality.

“We look forward to the return of our sons and daughters to their schools, to develop their capacities and skills in a safe and healthy academic environment where they can be overachievers, preparing a promising generation capable of leading the country in the future,” Sheikh Abdullah said at the time.

Those efforts were boosted this week when the UAE approved the use of the coronavirus vaccine for teenagers aged 16 and above.

The decision was made by the Ministry of Health and Prevention on Sunday.

The move was welcomed by school leaders who said it provided hope after a year of disruption for the education sector.

Allowing older pupils to be vaccinated was viewed by school heads as key to securing a permanent return to in-person lessons.

Public and private schools in Abu Dhabi will adopt distance learning for at least the next two weeks amid a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Schools in Dubai and Sharjah continue to provide blended models of in-person and remote learning.

More than two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered across the country to date.

Sheikh Abdullah is one of a host of senior figures in the country to be vaccinated.

Sheikh Abdullah supports digital drive

Sheikh Abdullah highlighted the role of digital media in the education sector in preparing learners for careers increasingly influenced by advances in technology.

He said digital media was crucial in “strengthening the education system to build a new generation of skilled and qualified professionals”.

He made the statement while the council reviewed a proposal by the New Media Academy on the launch of an advanced academic training programme, which aims to integrate digital skills into the UAE’s education system.

Rashid Al Awadhi, chief executive of the academy, said the scheme would enable teachers to integrate digital media principles and skills into the school curriculum from an early stage.