Dubai, 26 March 2019: The Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) has released a report titled ‘The STEAM Dilemma,’ which was produced under the patronage of Her Excellency Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, today (Monday, March 25, 2019 at the MBRSG headquarters in the Convention Tower of the Dubai World Trade Centre.
The new study focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education in Dubai private schools. H.E. Al Amiri delivered a keynote speech at the launch ceremony and took part in a Q&A session. The ceremony was attended by MBRSG’s Executive President H.E. Dr. Ali Sebaa Al Marri and a host of influential figures and decision makers from the relevant sectors.
Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri praised the efforts made by MBRSG, which produced the insightful report that will help guide educational policies towards new horizons that address science and technology curricula in innovative ways.
In her keynote speech, Her Excellency said: “Investing in the integration of science and technology and teaching their subjects in innovative ways for all age groups is a pressing need and meeting this need will serve as a catalyst for achieving the desired growth in the UAE. These fields are of great importance in our lives and focusing on developing these vital areas is essential to reach the UAE 2071 goals."
The report explores STEAM adoption in private schools in Dubai, focusing primarily on the on-the-ground experiences of educators and discussing key challenges and opportunities. Notable challenges include difficulties with integrating curricula and translating them into lesson plans, and the trade-off between delivering on curricular objectives and targets and meeting the expectations of integrated STEAM. Additionally, resource allocation proved to be a challenge, where, despite enthusiasm for STEAM, resources in some schools were spread thin and limited to only some grade levels and not others. Furthermore, the study revealed difficulties faced in incorporating technology, where tech integration was limited to e-versions of traditional teaching resources with very few examples of technology used for experiential learning opportunities. Finally, teacher capacity and workload proved to be a challenge for many educators who were making sincere attempts to deliver STEAM through innovative teaching methods.
On the other hand, the study pointed to a number of opportunities for STEAM Education in Dubai, such as the culture of interdisciplinary learning that schools have cultivated, where awareness of the importance of STEAM creates school cultures that value interdisciplinary and collaborative learning. Another opportunity is the emphasis on project-based STEAM instruction, which emphasizes 21st skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, leadership, and media literacy. Co-author Lama Zakzak noted that “Conventional skills like memory, reading, and writing are on the decline while skills like analytical thinking, problem-solving, technology design and programming are on the rise”.
Furthermore, there is the integration of robotics, where all of the schools visited in the study had employed robotics or Lego kits for teaching STEAM, as well as collaboration between schools that offer opportunities for schools to share practices and resources, and to experiment together. There are also opportunities in extracurricular STEAM activities, where teachers and students are able to explore and experiment with STEAM concepts, methods, and tools outside the curriculum, and then integrate successful teaching methods into the classroom.