It is not every day we see children registering for university, but now in the miniature world of KidZania at the Dubai Mall this has become a thing of the past. With the inauguration of Hamdan Bin Mohammad e-University at KidZania last week children can now earn bachelor's and master's degrees to improve their job prospects in the city.
KidZania Dubai is spread over 80,000 sq ft and offers children between five and 16 a chance to get a taste of the real world. The concept of the place is to allow children to try their hand at over 80 professions in places like the fire station, the hospital, the bank or the theatre. They then earn KidZos — the official currency of the miniature city — for their work and can either store it at the bank or spend it in the city.
"The university is building the base for a knowledge-based economy in its simplest form with the kids here at KidZania and this is something we are proud of," said Dr Mansour Al Awar, Chancellor of the university. "We are the first higher education institution in the UAE to enter KidZania and to subsequently enter into the new era of education they call edutainment."
The children who enrol at KidZania's Hamdan Bin Mohammad e-University will get a taste of e-learning by playing an online educational game. It is a basic questionnaire and, based on their results, learners will be awarded either an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.
"The idea for the university in KidZania is to access the younger generation and introduce them to the concept of edutainment," said Ghada Sami, director of admissions and learners accessibility at the university. "Learning is much more fun while you play and this way kids will get to know our brand and understand the concept of e-learning and how it can be fun."
The e-University in the edutainment city is designed to allow children to appreciate the joys of learning at an early age. It serves as a platform to communicate with parents who play an important role in moulding the learning habits of youths.
She added students will go through a basic registration process to match the real-life experience and then proceed to answer the questionnaire. They are awarded qualifications according to their results.
"All of the university's programmes at KidZania have been programmed to match the jobs in the city."
A bachelor's degree and master's degree will earn the children different amounts of money, again, to teach them about how the real world functions.
"With a bachelor's degree kids get a certain amount of KidZos and with a master's degree they get more money," she said. "Therefore the kids learn and understand that the more they learn and get educated the better the job they can get to make more money."