20 October 2007

Abu Dhabi poses for education growth

Education department and technical institutions planned
August 25 – September 7, 2007
Issue 30

Education, for His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, is ‘a pillar that will enable the emirate to meet the standards of excellence achieved in the most highly educated countries in the world.’ And starting this school year, the government will be working on the ‘highest quality, comprehensive system of education that applies world-class standards and expertise,’ which was only available overseas.

Based on the Policy Agenda 2007/08, an 83-page document containing 18 policy statements on energy, health, urban planning, transport, labour, environment, culture and heritage, the education sector will be undergoing administrative restructuring and streamline processes to give the Ministry of Education more time regulating educational institutions rather than directly supervising their day-to-day operations. This action will eventually goad the private sector to redouble their participation in the field as well as their collaboration with the public sector.

Integrating key platforms to the proposed education initiatives, launching of early childhood education programs, assessing school operations and partnering with some international institutions are the other strategies the government will implement to attain a world-class education. “The development goals of the United Arab Emirates and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi will be achieved only with the support of a sophisticated and entrepreneurial workforce,” the agenda stated.

Among of the reforms is the Public-Private Partnerships for Public School Management Pilot Project, which will determine if the participation of private providers currently managing 30 schools in Abu Dhabi should be expanded. “Early indications of improved educational outcomes mean that the pilot program will be expanded to another 30 schools from September 2007. Whereas the first 30 pilot schools cover Grades K to Five, the second wave of PPP schools will cater for Grades Six to Nine.”

The government also wants to coordinate school planning between federal and local government departments. “The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) is completing a demographic study, to inform planning and civil works decisions on the future needs for new or upgraded school facilities. And greater coordination will be required with the Department of Municipal Affairs and private property developers in order to coordinate public planning for schools in new residential developments, and with transport authorities to facilitate public access to schools.”

Technology learning platforms will also be at hand. Anything that will allow for an efficient administrative and data management, effective curriculum delivery and student learning system, and access for teacher-to-student and teacher-to-parent communication will be employed.

2007 Projects

On top of the list of the proposed approaches is to establish a Department of Education, which will manage the progress of education in the emirate; and the Abu Dhabi Vocational Education and Training Institute, which will provide international vocation based training on health, legal and tourism.

Next in line is to empower local and international private sector education providers by introducing public schools throughout Abu Dhabi. “This initiative further builds on the government’s effort to more effectively leverage the expertise of the private sector in the delivery of education services.”

A new curriculum, which will focus on health and physical education, will be applied to Grades Six to Nine in all PPP and model schools, following a review conducted by the ADEC. They will also work with relevant public health entities to help in propagating the importance of a healthy lifestyle. “While schools do have physical education courses, there is an insufficient focus on healthy living and disease prevention.”

To compensate for the 44% of teachers who are already in practice but do not hold university degrees, a skills development training will be provided by the Emirates College for Educational Development to strengthen professionalism among the existing teachers. Newly entering teachers, on the other hand, are required to have a Bachelor’s Degree, know English and attend a university-level teacher training certification course.

Previously, the government has laid out foundations to advance its education system. His Highness has issued Law No. 14 establishing the Paris Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi. The emirate has also agreed with graduate business school INSEAD and Colorado of Mines, while the first higher education, the UAE University, concurred a 28-year concession agreement with the Al Hikma Development.

Technical education is also given prime importance as a corporate with financial and administrative independence, the Institute of Applied Technology, was funded two years ago to lecture on aviation, automotive, health and defence. The National University of Science, Technology and Research was also established to further technical and vocational education.

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