Academic institutes in the UAE have introduced online summer camps to help pupils make up for lost school learning because of Covid-19.
Education experts said many parents raised concerns of their children falling behind in core subjects as they struggled with e-learning after schools closed in March.
Tutoring centres in Dubai reported a surge in interest for one-to-one classes for maths, science and English, especially for younger children.
Over the past few weeks, families across the country have signed up for in-house and online summer courses focused on curriculum-based “catch-up sessions”.
With the move to online, there has been something of a shift to keep up with schooling over the past term
“Summer was always a great time to catch up with any work that had been missed in the previous academic year,” Alex Rudgalvis, centre director for Tutoring Club in Mudon, told The National.
“However, for many children, Covid-19 has highlighted areas they were really struggling with.
“Our summer schools are now online as well as in our centres and there has been more recognition that tuition can help bridge the gap which has widened recently.”
He said demand from parents changed during the pandemic.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, the centre helped to build foundation skills and address areas of weakness.
Now, more parents have requested tutors to focus on a specific curriculum.
“With the move to online, there has been something of a shift to keep up with schooling over the past term,” he said.
“We see an intention to use summer holidays to address these gaps, as well as recover any material that has caused concern over the last term.
“They want more teaching to the curriculum because of the lack of time in schools with teachers.”
Tutoring Club has four centres in Dubai.
Summer camp packages start from Dh720 a week for five one-hour sessions, up to Dh4,400 for 40 hours over eight weeks.
So far, the centre has dealt with lots of inquiries but “slightly fewer new enrolments” due to financial concerns and “fatigue with online learning”.
By mid-July, Mr Rudgalvis said he hoped to have between “40 to 50 new sign ups”.
The majority of interest has come from parents of pupils under 12 or those approaching IB and A-level exams.
At the Tutoring Centre in Dubai, its in-house summer sessions have been revised to adhere to health and safety precautions.
To align with requirements set by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai’s private school regulator, individual folders with new textbooks will be passed to all pupils to ensure no papers are exchanged.
“Our demand for reading comprehension, writing and maths stayed consistent throughout lockdown,” said Joanna Lynch, centre director.
“What was surprising was the amount of early-years support requests we had during the home learning phase.
“I think during home learning, older children were able to be somewhat independent with their approach but younger kids needed constant support and guidance.”
Ms Lynch said it also began a new programme a few months ago designed to keep pupils ahead in maths.
For the summer, session scheduling has also increased.
“Usually, pupils come to the centre two or three times a week,” she said.
“This summer we have added an option of up to five classes a week to help give structure and increased motivation and confidence before the full return to school.
“We’ve reduced our capacity throughout summer in an effort to keep everyone safe.”
Packages for one-to-one instruction start at Dh1,500 for 10 one-hour sessions, up to Dh5,300 for 40 sessions.
Ivy Camps USA, which usually runs summer activities out of a Dubai school, recently introduced its first virtual summer camp to the UAE.
“We believe they are needed now more than ever,” said Nourjannah Hendi, director of Middle East operations.
“More parents and organisations are asking about camp now than before due to several factors.
“More families are staying in the UAE this summer because of Covid-19 and the fears surrounding travel and getting stuck abroad.
“There also seems to be a general sentiment that kids have lost much of the value of learning because of the recent switch to the online platforms, and that parents are afraid that this loss will continue.”
The camps, which include lessons on strategy and chance, the science of motion and machines and game theory, will run until August 13.
Parents can choose from three-week packages or mix-and-match one-week camps.
Prices start from Dh2,200 for the three-week package, or Dh860 for the one-week course.
Source: The National