UAE created Satellite Operations Centre to cope with increased demand for distance learning - GulfToday

UAE created Satellite Operations Centre to cope with increased demand for distance learning


Al-Hammadi holds virtual meeting with dignitaries. WAM

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the catalyst for a massive adoption of advanced technologies in the healthcare, education and telecommunications sectors as service providers abruptly switched to online platforms, according to speakers at the virtual edition of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (#GMIS2020) which is taking place from September 4-5.

Hussain Al-Hammadi, Minister of Education, and Edward Zhou, Vice President for Global Public Affairs of Huawei, convened on Saturday on a panel titled ‘Pushing the limits in the healthcare, telecoms and education sectors: Bent, but not broken?’ to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the education and telecoms sectors.

Al-Hammadi said the UAE was well prepared to make the shift to distance learning platforms after the pandemic hit because in 2012 the country launched the Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Initiative which was established to offer a unique learning environment in schools through the introduction of ‘Smart Classes’ under which students will utilise smart devices and high-speed 4G networks as means of acquiring knowledge. The experience gained through this initiative has allowed the UAE to fine-tune educational curriculums into two versions – one for classrooms and the other for distance learning.


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"We really invested a lot a long time ago in all these infrastructure requirements to enable us to continue educating in different scenarios," he said. "It’s about building the best learning platform that is really smart, resilient, and meets modern requirements. Then you need to provide teachers and students with appropriate devices that enable them to enter the network and have the capabilities to use advanced applications and software to be embedded in the learning platform."

Minister Al-Hammadi said the rapid shift to distance learning on an unprecedented scale had still created huge technical and logistical challenges for the education system. To deal with this, the Ministry of Education created a Satellite Operations Centre to cope with the demand, and connect with the parents and students. "We had 1.2 plus million students in the general education that we have to shift within two weeks to this platform for full 100% learning and we had never done this big a number through distance learning. We had to upgrade Internet speed by almost 100%," he said.

Zhou highlighted the role that telecommunications had played in keeping economies moving during the pandemic, but he stressed the disproportionate impact that the virus had on communities that still have no access to the internet.


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