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Nurturing Excellence: Our Journey at Our Own English Boys School

Our journey at Our Own English High School-Al Ain has been nothing short of remarkable. OOL was established in 1992 with a clear vision, we've strived to provide top-tier education fostering inclusivity and achieving outstanding academic results.

Since our inception, we've continuously evolved to meet the needs of our diverse student body. Offering both the British Cambridge and the Indian CBSE curricula, we have worked to ensure that each student receives a tailored education suited to their ambitions and strengths, no matter what they may be.


An example of our commitment to an all-round education for our students can be found in our focus on sustainability. In 2023, we were honoured with the prestigious Green School Award, recognising our efforts in promoting environmental consciousness and eco-friendly practices. 


This year, we're thrilled to have received the Sharaf DG E-Waste Award, further highlighting our dedication to sustainable initiatives and responsible e-waste management.

As for my journey to this position, it's been a culmination of dedication, passion, and continuous learning and I am so fortunate to be supported by similarly driven educators who have remained at the school over many years. 


We have many of the longest-serving teachers in the GEMS Education network, a fact of which I’m very proud. We truly are one team with a shared vision of excellence for all our students.


Q: How do you define a successful student in your school?


At OOL, we define a successful student as one who has undergone holistic growth and development during their time with us. This encompasses various aspects, from academic achievements to personal growth and the full cultivation of talents, in whatever field in which these lie.


A successful student in our school is someone who enters with potential and leaves as a well-rounded individual, having excelled academically while also exploring and honing their talents and interests. We strive to provide a nurturing environment where students can flourish intellectually, socially, and emotionally. Beyond academic excellence, a successful student embodies our core values of resilience and agility among other qualities. They demonstrate the ability to overcome challenges, adapt to change, and thrive in diverse situations. 


These values are crucial for navigating the complexities of the modern world and pursuing their ambitions, whether it be further education at a university or pursuing their chosen career path. Ultimately, a successful student from Our Own English High School - Al Ain emerges as a complete person, ready to take on the next steps in their journey with confidence, integrity, and a strong sense of purpose.


Q: What is the best practice/idea that you have implemented in your school? Can you take us through your process of – ideation, plan of action and execution for the same?


We observed that students often learn best when actively engaged in the learning process and when they can apply theoretical knowledge to real-life situations. Thus, the idea of incorporating active and experiential learning into our curriculum was born.


The journey of implementing active and experiential learning in our school involved careful planning, ongoing collaboration with our teachers, students, and parents, and a commitment to student-centred education. 


By embracing innovative pedagogical practices and proper preparation for our teachers, we have created a dynamic learning environment where students are empowered to become lifelong learners and active contributors to society.


Q: What is the future you want for your school? What future do you see for your school?


We envision a future where Our Own English High School - Al Ain is continually evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of our students and society. We strive to provide a dynamic learning environment where every student has the opportunity to thrive academically, socially, and personally.


In this future, our school will continue to excel in delivering high-quality education through innovative teaching methods, and a commitment to excellence. We aim to foster a culture of lifelong learning, where curiosity is nurtured, and students are empowered to explore their passions and reach their full potential.


Moreover, we envision our school as a hub of diversity, inclusivity, and belonging, where students from all backgrounds feel valued, supported, and inspired to succeed. We aspire to cultivate a strong sense of community and collaboration among students, teachers, parents, and stakeholders, working together to create positive change and make a meaningful impact in the world.


Ultimately, the future we see for Our Own English High School - Al Ain is one where each student emerges as a well-rounded individual, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and values to navigate the complexities of the 21st century and contribute positively to society. We are committed to realising this vision and continuing our journey of growth and development for the betterment of our students and the community.


Digital Divide: Analyse the digital divide in Indian schools, focusing on disparities in access to technology and the internet.


The Education arena has gone through an extensive paradigm shift, especially during the Covid epidemic and it, calls upon all educational institutes to engage in digital technology at all levels of a school.


Worldwide, educational institutions are increasingly integrating technology into their curriculum and are now using innovative ways for children to access educational content through offline solutions or low-cost devices. Efforts are also being made to improve digital literacy among teachers and parents to support children in their digital learning journey.

Artificial Intelligence in today’s world, the learner and the facilitator play a significant and comprehensive role in the field of education and at the same time pose challenges to the system. There are different opportunities to enhance the learning experience with high-performance learning outputs. Integration of Artificial Intelligence in education is not merely a fad; rather, it is a revolution that is changing how education is delivered and received. By adopting AI, educators are coming up with creative ways to address the changing requirements of their learners, giving them customised attention and creating a welcoming environment for learning. However, some challenges include the authenticity and legitimacy of the output produced.  


The lack of access to technology in education can create disparities and hinder the learning opportunities for these children. Without access to digital tools, they may struggle to acquire digital literacy skills, access online learning resources, or participate in digital classrooms. This can further widen the educational divide and limit their future opportunities. Hence, there appears to be an expansive digital divide in Indian schools for a variety of reasons.


What is the Digital Divide?


The digital divide refers to the gap between individuals, and communities in our country in terms of their access to and use of digital technologies. It is the divide between those who have access to the internet and other digital tools and those who do not.


It is often socio-economic, with disadvantaged groups such as low-income individuals, rural communities, and marginalised populations generally having less access to digital technologies compared to more affluent and urban counterparts. This is due to factors such as a lack of infrastructure, high costs, or limited technological skills.


However, the digital divide, which refers to the gap between those who have access to modern information and communication technology and those who do not, presents a challenge to leveraging Artificial Intelligence in education equitably and effectively.


The digital Divide has significant implications for education, employment opportunities, healthcare access, and overall social and economic development. Those who do not have easy and affordable access to digital technologies may struggle to keep up with the fast-paced digital world, limiting their ability to access information and services, network, and engage in the digital economy. Bridging the Digital Divide Gap requires concerted efforts to ensure equitable access to technology, improve digital literacy, and provide affordable internet connectivity, thereby empowering individuals to participate fully in the digital age and contribute to societal progress.


Bridging the Digital Divide Gap:


Like many other countries, India faces a significant digital divide, especially regarding access to technology among children. While urban areas and affluent families may have better access to technology, many children in rural and underserved areas still lack access to computers, smartphones, and the Internet.


Efforts to bridge the digital divide will include improving infrastructure and connectivity, providing affordable internet access, offering digital literacy and skills training programs, and ensuring access to digital technologies in schools and public institutions. Closing the digital divide is seen as crucial for promoting equality and inclusivity in the digital age.

Children in rural areas, especially, should be allowed to access digital education. Low-cost digital centres or special donations to rural schools will help expedite this. Non-profit organisations and private sector companies are also working on projects to provide digital access and education to underserved communities.


The Indian government has launched a variety of initiatives to expand internet connectivity and digital infrastructure to remote areas, such as Bharat Net, Common Service Centres (CSCs), Digital India Campaign, and Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA), aiming to bridge the digital divide. However, despite these efforts, the Government needs to become more proactive in addressing the challenges posed by the digital divide. More digital learning will create more digital awareness, use of regional languages should be used as online teaching resources, special resources for students who are Physically Disabled should be abled,  and addressing social issues is important. To give a deeper understanding let me explain.


1. The Government Needs to Become More Proactive


Policymakers and educational leaders should collaborate with governments and big corporations to significantly reduce the digital divide. They can help schools, learners, and teachers access digital content for schools, digital boards for teaching and other digital learning solutions at cost-effective prices and at a significant scale. 


Companies can extend their resources and aid children from underserved communities by providing devices to access the internet and can set up computer labs in schools to build an enabling environment for them.


The initiative taken by the government for Digital Education in India includes DIKSHA, Vidyadaan, E- textbooks, PRAGYATA, and Shiksha Vani.


2. More Digital Learning 


To enhance educational standards, teachers and students must get comprehensive training in using digital tools. To apply state-of-the-art digital content for schools, a digital board must be used. Schools must collaborate with the government to establish technical learning curriculums, conduct seminars, and hold workshops.


3. Digital Awareness


Cultural differences and social concerns are major roadblocks to digital progress. To develop initiatives that promote digital literacy, public and private organisations must work together. Street plays, graphic presentations, one-on-one conversations, and other engaging methods of teaching people about digital literacy are available.


4. Use of Regional Languages in Online Teaching Resources


People feel more connected to content when they read it in their local language. Educators should create more contextualised online learning resources in native languages to reach out to a more significant number of students and teachers. Online digital schools in India should focus on including digital content for schools in local languages in their programmes.


5. Special Resources for Students who are Physically Disabled


Teachers should focus on making technology-based learning accessible for differently abled students. Several modern technologies can help students, including laptops and tablets to help them learn in a variety of ways.


6. Addressing Social Issues


Social inequalities exist throughout the world and have a significant impact on the digital divide. The prejudice against women might potentially be a major roadblock to technological advancement. Today, women who want to use digital technology must get both financial and social support. Governmental entities and non-profit groups ought to develop programmes to nudge women into greater use of technology.


Introducing children to community-shared devices and offering a contextualised and localised digital repository has the potential to bridge the digital divide. This will give children access to technology-aided learning materials and help bridge the digital divide in school for students.


Here, at our school, there is no Digital Divide as all children have easy access to technology. The BYOD policy at school encourages children to bring an iPad to school to work with their lessons. STEAM and robotics, also play a pivotal role in our education. 


While progress has been made, there is still a long way to go in ensuring equal access to technology for all children in India. To help close the digital divide one will require sustained efforts from multiple stakeholders to address infrastructure challenges, affordability, and provide quality digital education opportunities to every child.


The digital divide in Indian schools presents a critical challenge, with disparities in access to technology and the internet hindering educational opportunities. Efforts to bridge this gap include infrastructure improvements, digital literacy programs, and affordable access initiatives. Collaboration among stakeholders is key to ensuring equal access to quality digital education for all children. At Our Own English High School - Al Ain, we've overcome this divide by providing equal access to technology for all students, fostering innovation, and ensuring every student can thrive academically and personally. We remain committed to preparing students for success in the 21st century and contributing positively to society.

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