Summer abroad for 500 outstanding students from Abu Dhabi

ADEC logo Abu Dhab Education Council Summer abroad for 500 outstanding students from Abu DhabiAbu Dhabi, UAE: Five hundred outstanding school pupils have been selected to travel to parts of Europe, North America and Australia as part of the Abu Dhabi Education Council‘s annual Summer Abroad programme.

The aim is to give the grade 10 and 11 pupils insight into other cultures and broaden their knowledge by travelling to the US, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“This opportunity is awarded to distinguished students for the eighth year in a row,” said Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, director general of Adec. “Students will travel on August 10 to respective host countries for four weeks to study English, maths, science and leadership skills.”

The children were chosen based on their performance at school in several disciplines.

“Among the criteria governing the selection of top students was academic performance, ie, scoring 85 per cent or more, their behaviour at school and participation in extra-curricular activities,” said Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, Adec’s executive director of school operations.

“The participation of students in this programme is subject to their parents’ approval.”

Mr Al Dhaheri said that 44 supervisors will accompany the pupils. “They will be chosen based on their leadership skills and efficiency. Supervisors and students will have medical insurance coverage while abroad.”

(C) TheNational

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Two thirds of Abu Dhabi private schools ranked as ‘poor’

Dr Mugheer Al Khaili Adec’s director general and Hamad Al Dhahiri the council’s executive director of private schools and quality assurance 300x200 Two thirds of Abu Dhabi private schools ranked as poorAbu Dhabi, UAE: Inspectors have rated two thirds of the emirate’s private schools unsatisfactory or worse.

None of the 146 schools they visited achieved the top score of “outstanding” and 100 were found to be “in need of significant improvement” – the lowest of three grades.

Inspection teams from ADEC, the Abu Dhabi Education Council, have been rating private schools for four years but made their findings public for the first time yesterday.

“We started this process long ago, but we did not announce the results at that time to give private schools the chance to enhance and develop their standards,” said Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, ADEC‘s director general.

More than 20 schools were rated “high-performing”, and more than 90 had improved since they were last inspected. “There is development which is remarkable,” said Hamad Al Dhahiri, Adec’s executive director of private schools and quality assurance.

Some schools were praised for addressing problems but others were criticised for neglecting child safety, overcrowding classrooms and hiring unqualified teachers.

Inspectors found no link between a school’s fees and its rating. “There are schools that have very low fees, not high fees, and the performance was excellent,” Dr Al Khaili said.

Detailed inspection reports for each school are available in English and Arabic on Adec’s website, adec.ac.ae. “For students and parents, transparency is very important,” Mr Al Dhahiri said.

Inspectors spent about four days at each school and evaluated them on eight standards including student attainment, quality of teaching, protection and care of students and school leadership.

The inspectors gave each school an overall score from 1 (outstanding) to 8 (poor). No schools scored 1, but 4 per cent of schools scored 2 (very good) and 11 per cent scored 3 (good). Nineteen per cent of the schools achieved scores of 4 or 5.

The most common score was 6 (unsatisfactory), given to 38 per cent of the schools.

The scores were further divided into “bands” or grades: schools scoring 1 to 3 were graded A or “high-performing”, schools scoring 4 or 5 were graded B or “satisfactory” and schools scoring 6 to 8 were graded C, or “in need of significant improvement”.

Asked where schools needed to improve the most, Mr Al Dhahiri said: “Teaching”.

“Schools must concentrate on professional development and they should also invest in teachers,” he said.

Failing schools will receive additional support from the Government and will be inspected more often.

“Schools in band C, the inspectors visit three to five visits a year and there is follow-up continuously,” Mr Al Dhahiri said.

Abu Dhabi will not connect the scores to future requests to raise school fees, as the Knowledge and Human Development Authority does in Dubai, Dr Al Khaili said.

“The process of increasing the fees will not change in the coming phase,” he said.

The most recent inspections were carried out between 2011 and June this year. Despite low scores overall, many schools showed significant improvement from a previous round of inspections between 2009 and 2011.

For example, 43 schools improved their scores by one point and 18 improved by a full three points. Only 12 schools fell backwards, receiving worse scores than in previous inspections.

Inspectors found that the scores were only weakly linked to the type of curriculum offered.

“Many of the schools who apply the British curriculum in the right way have achieved satisfactory or high ratings but many schools in American, Indian and Ministry of Education curriculum received good ratings as well,” Mr Al Dhahiri said. “The curriculum is not a main factor but it’s an important one.”

(C) TheNational

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Smart learning programme in 100 more UAE schools

UAE Ministry of Education Logo 300x168 Smart learning programme in 100 more UAE schoolsDubai, UAE: The Mohammed Bin Rashid Initiative for Smart Learning programme will be implemented on an additional 100 schools in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, the minister of education announced.

Humaid Al Qutami, UAE Minister of Education said that the first stages of implementing the smart learning programme for the academic year 2013/2014 has started during a board meeting held yesterday.

He added that the new phase is based on the feedback of the first pilot phase which took place during the previous academic year in a total of 14 schools.

The Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Smart Learning Programme which is part of the UAE Vision 2021, was launched in 2012 by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The initiative aims to shape a new learning environment in public schools through the launch of ‘smart classes’ that will provide every student with an electronic tablet and access to high-speed 4G networks by 2017.

“The importance of moving into smart learning and utilizing modern technology during the changing phases that education is going through so that the UAE can be a leader in education and a knowledge-based society,” Qutami stressed.

Mohammad Gheyath the Director General of the smart learning programme stated: “Since the start of the academic year 2012/13 and no effort has been spared in the implementation of the programme as we have cooperated with strategic partners in order to enable students, teachers and school’s infrastructure to be prepared to transition smoothly into the smart learning environment.”

Other issues discussed at the board meeting included: the steps needed to launch the programme’s next phase and how to promote government policies regarding the nature of the programme.

(C) Gulfnews

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New Dubai-based centre to promote Islamic Banking around the world

Hamdan bin Mohammed eUniversity HBMeU logo 300x204 New Dubai based centre to promote Islamic Banking around the worldDubai, UAE: Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, launched the ‘Dubai Centre for Islamic Banking and Finance’ yesterday, which will offer students a Master degree, foundation certificates and short-term training programmes in Islamic banking and financing via Hamdan Bin Mohamad e-University (HBMeU).

“The launch of the centre is a significant boost to the Islamic economy sector in the UAE and a major step forward in the economic development agenda of Dubai,” said Shaikh Hamdan.

The centre is in line with the initiative launched by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Speaking on this partnership, Shaikh Hamdan stated: “The partnership between ‘Dubai Centre for Islamic Banking and Finance’ and HBMeU represents the importance of fruitful cooperation between different sectors in the country through investing in the best expertise and global experience in the field of Islamic economy which will benefit the sector and promote Dubai as the hub of the world economy.”

The programmes offered will cover key subjects such as Islamic banking, finance, Sharia, economics, accounting, risk management and corporate governance.

The centre will also conduct research to “advance the professional and theoretical foundation for Islamic banking and finance. It will also play a role in improving access to Islamic banking and finance education for the wider community in the Arab world.

The Chancellor of HBMeU stated that an international advisory board will help implement the services provided by the centre.

“Because this is an international initiative, we put together an international experienced advisory board which will help establish the centre under the umbrella of the university,” said Dr Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor of HBMeU.

The programmes offered will adopt a blended learning approach of face-to-face learning, online collaboration and self-paced learning.

(C) Gulfnews

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US Women’s Colleges: an excellent option for UAE students

Bloomberg Diana Centre at Barnard College in New York 300x197 US Women’s Colleges: an excellent option for UAE studentsDubai, UAE: Women’s colleges are an ideal option for female UAE high school students intent on maintaining social, cultural, and religious values in a female-only setting, while pursuing an excellent education in the United States. As high school juniors compile a list of colleges to apply to this month, UAE women should consider the benefits of applying to women’s-only colleges. Many people are not aware that there are over 45 colleges dedicated to educating only women in the US, most of which offer cross-registration opportunities at nearby colleges and universities. The most famous women’s colleges are the Seven Sisters, a loose association of smaller liberal arts colleges that offer an elite education on the East Coast.

While two of these colleges – Radcliffe and Vassar – have either been absorbed and integrated into the larger university or have decided to go co-educational, the remaining five – Mount Holyoke, Wellesley, Smith, Bryn Mawr, and Barnard – remain leaders in the field of educating women. Other excellent all-women options are Mills College in San Francisco, which encourages its student to cross-register at UC Berkeley, and Cedar Crest College, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. High school juniors creating their college short lists now, in anticipation of visiting these colleges over the coming summer, should research and include several women’s colleges as a viable option.

The No. 1 college for women
Wellesley College, a liberal arts college located 20 miles west of Boston, is the No. 1 US women’s college and ranked 6th nationally, according to the US News and World Report 2013 National Liberal Arts College Ranking. Wellesley is best known for its Political Science department, as two of its recent alumnae – Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright – have held the position of US Secretary of State. Wellesley students can take advantage of studying at the Albright Institute, which allows students to pursue a year-long academic program, hands-on internships in and research on global institutions, and attend school-organized conferences. Similarly, Smith College, one of the largest women’s colleges in the US, has more than 120 student organizations for students to join, ranging from Business Women of Smith, a student-run club that provides its members with knowledge, resources, and networking opportunities in business and entrepreneurship, to Celebrations Dance Company, a student-led dance troupe.

Nurturing environment
Most women’s colleges are part of local consortiums that enable their students to enroll in classes in nearby institutions, thus providing a co-educational experience, if so desired. Wellesley students, for example, have the option of securing a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley and a Bachelor of Science degree from MIT over the course of five years. Students at Smith and Mt Holyoke can also enroll in classes at UMASS Amherst, Amherst, and Hampshire colleges, as well. Bryn Mawr students can take classes at nearby Swarthmore. These women’s colleges are as academically rigorous as co-educational schools, but offer the added benefit of providing for a close-knit community of faculty, students, and alumnae. This positive and nurturing environment focuses on women’s needs and exposes students to powerful female role models, molding them and encouraging them to pursue leadership roles, both in the university and later in life.

Most women’s colleges are situated in suburban settings, in close proximity to urban centers, but still far enough away to have traditional campuses, which are conducive to learning, creativity, and self-expression. For those who prefer an urban campus, options include Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York City, and Simmons College in Boston. Regardless of the school’s location, security is a top priority in all women’s college, especially in all-women areas such as dormitories. While there are male faculty and workers on campus, they are restricted only to classrooms and public areas. Any male visitors must be registered or escorted, especially in dormitories and dining halls.

A focus on women’s needs
The most distinguishing feature of women’s college is that the all-female atmosphere is conducive to honest and opened discussions about women’s needs and interests, and there is expanded academic and personal support for students to succeed. Students are supported in every aspect of their lives, from academic tutoring, to personal counseling; of course these types of services exist in co-educational institutions, but, because a women’s college is small and intimate, students with academic or social issues are identified more easily and get the help they need immediately, before problems get out of hand. There is a social safety net established by a network of professors, staff, dorm advisors, and fellow students that help students to perform their best.

University years are particularly transformative for young women and students at these schools will learn to think, speak, analyse, and seek solutions, as well as gain self-confidence and develop leadership skills. Female students are encouraged to be leaders because in an all-women environment, it’s common to see a woman leading a science research team or serving as captain of a tennis team. Being in such environment is inspiring for females who may not have had these role models earlier in life. They help build self-confidence and hone skills to overcome life’s challenges, which are very valuable later in life.

There are women’s colleges to fit every UAE student’s academic needs and potential. Unlike many other schools, Mount Holyoke, another nationally recognised liberal arts school, does not require students to submit SAT scores as part of their application, as the school doesn’t believe the standardized test is an accurate indicator of academic potential or ability. Mt Holyoke offers UAE students who may have scored poorly on the SAT the opportunity to study at one of the best small colleges in the country.

US women’s colleges are ideal higher learning institutions for female students in the UAE looking for the best US college education has to offer, but still maintain important social, cultural and religious values. The safe and nurturing environment at these schools will help UAE female students to learn, grow, and become leaders.

I always advise students to select schools that fit with their educational and personal goals. The process of applying to women’s colleges is the same as applying to co-educational schools. Female applicants from the UAE will have the added advantage of bringing with them cultural diversity that will enrich the school’s community.

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Emirati teens get on-the-job training in retail sector

Hamda Ali Almarzooqi was among those who registered for a new programme by Absher Young Emiratis Start to Work 300x200 Emirati teens get on the job training in retail sectorAbu Dhabi, UAE: Hundreds of Emirati teenagers are being offered summer jobs in supermarkets and other retail outlets.

School pupils aged 16 and 17 will spend three-week placements with employers such as Carrefour, LuLu and ADNOC filling stations in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

The scheme is part of the Absher Initiative, which aims to increase the number of Emiratis working in the private sector. The hope is that it will raise the youngsters’ interest in private-sector employment as they gain experience in sales and customer service.

By the end of the project’s first day yesterday about 100 teenagers had applied. “I read about it in the papers and called at once,” said Hamda Al Marzooqi, 17. “They were very helpful and asked me to come and they would give me the details, and here I am.”

Hamda said she had been waiting a long time for the chance of a summer job. “Today is the first day, and I am here. I am sure when I tell my friends about it, everyone will be excited,” she said.

Mubarak Saeed Al Shamsi, deputy director general of Abu Dhabi’s vocational training centre ACTVET, which is running the scheme, said: “The initiative is a chance to give the applicants the opportunity to work in four different areas: retail sales associate; customer relations representative; stocks replenishment associate; and cosmetic consultant in different retail shops that have been very thoughtfully chosen to provide the applicants the full experience of what a real job is, professionally.”

ACTVET expects about 300 applications for the pilot scheme and those who apply will have priority to be enrolled in next summer’s full-scale project.

Those selected will have one week’s training followed by on-the-job experience for two weeks.

Their working hours will be 9am to 2.30pm and the project will run from August 14 until September 5.

After the three weeks, they will leave with a qualification approved by the National Qualifications Authority, and a financial reward.

“This will help us have a better plan of what to study and which major to choose later when it’s time for university,” said Hamda.

“It’s a chance to make a plan for the future and get a sense of what is ahead of us. I would know what it takes to be a businesswoman one day.

“I am not at all scared, it’s good we are having the workshops for the first week, but I still feel confident that we’ll do well and will learn a lot.”

Naser Thani A Hameli, an assistant undersecretary at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, said: “It is a fundamental national initiative under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, that reflects the vision of our leadership in the teaching process, both theoretically and practically, through contributing to the work sector and investing in their summer free time.

“This enforces our children’s learning process and prepares them for the workforce.”

If interested, teenagers apply at http://www.absher.ae or http://www.actvet.ac.ae no later than Thursday.

The pupils will then be called to the ACTVET office for an interview before starting work.

(C) TheNational

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English test scores rise for Emirati students

Abu Dhabi’s Western Region produced the largest score gains for Emirati students in English 300x200 English test scores rise for Emirati studentsAbu Dhabi, UAE: Scores obtained by young Emiratis in a crucial end-of-school English examination have risen for the first time in five years.

If the improvement continues it will have profound implications for federal university budgets, which are eaten into by the cost of providing remedial English lessons for first-year students before they can begin their degree courses.

Results in the Cepa, or Common English Proficiency Examination, have improved in all emirates and among both boys and girls, although girls remain stronger.

Students who score at least 180 in the Cepa can go straight to university degree courses. Entrants who score a minimum of 150 but less than 180 spend at least a year studying remedial English, starving the universities’ degree programmes of funding.

The average score this year has increased from 160 to 163.5, an improvement that the Cepa supervisor Rachel Lange described as “really significant”.

“The difference between 160 and 163.5 is actually much greater than the difference between 136.5 and 140 or 206.5 and 210,” she said. “These 3.5 points in the 160 range are the equivalent of about a term of foundation English. That’s exciting.”

The better scores also mean 10 times more students than in 2003 are ready for direct entry into university. “The number of students who score above 180 … has been steadily increasing since Cepa began in 2003,” Ms Lange said. “If this trend continues, the universities could start eliminating English foundation programmes in seven to 10 years.”

The number of students who go straight to university has risen from 383, or 3 per cent, in 2003 to 3,482, or 20 per cent.

“I feel fairly confident that this pool of candidates will continue to grow, which means federal universities will be able to devote more of their total budgets to funding undergraduate studies and less to remedial courses,” said Ryan Gjovig, head of Cepa.

Federal entry scores are still considerably lower than those at many private universities. A direct entry score of 180 is equivalent to an IELTS examination score of 5.0 to 5.5. Universities such as the American University of Sharjah require a 6.5 IELTS score for baccalaureate study and Heriot Watt Dubai requires a 6.0.

Of the country’s 10 education zones, the Western Region of Abu Dhabi produced the largest gains, seven points higher on average in 2013 than in 2012, according to Mr Gjovig, though the report also showed there were fewer applicants this year indicating a possible decline in the lower level range of applicants.

However, he said the overall results suggest the reform programmes of the public school sector, particularly those of Adec, the Abu Dhabi Education Council, are working.

“Before now we’d seen no rise in the last five to six years and this is not just in private schools as I first thought.
“Most of the gains were actually seen in the government school sector, which is obviously very good news for the entire nation.

This seems to be evidence that the educational reform efforts of the Ministry of Education, Adec, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai and others may now be taking hold and bearing fruit.”

He cautioned, however, that “one year does not make a trend”.

“The overall scores had been frustratingly flat for the previous five years. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see additional gains from the 2014 cohort of students.”

While the results appear positive, experts warn they must be looked at with some caution.

Dr Natasha Ridge, head of research at the Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, said: “I’d like to see similar trends for at least another two years before it can be attributed to the education reforms. One year does not make a trend. I’d be very cautious before talking about ending foundation programmes.”

She added that an increase of three points on the average was “not that significant”.
“It’s also still clear that girls are doing better than boys so that gap is not narrowing in any way.”

In spite of the rise in English levels, maths is still lagging behind across the board.

“My only caveat to the good news this year is that a rise in English ability doesn’t necessarily indicate a rise in ability for all areas of academics,” Mr Gjovig said.

“Student performance on the Cepa maths examination is still quite poor and nearly all Government school applicants show severe deficiencies in basic computational skills such as simple multiplication, division and any calculations involving fractions.

“Hopefully, we’ll see improvements in this area as well in the coming years, but for now, foundation courses at the colleges for maths are still quite necessary.”

(C) TheNational

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UAE education regulator called in over 940 complaints last year

KHDA Logo mini 300x172 UAE education regulator called in over 940 complaints last yearDubai, UAE: Education regulators dealt with 940 disputes between schools and parents in the past academic year.

About a third of the complaints to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) between September 2012 and June related to school administration.

Fee disputes accounted for 283 complaints, and teachers’ behaviour and pupils’ admission were also significant areas of conflict. Other issues included pupils’ safety, behaviour, transport and school facilities.

In an attempt to reduce the problems the authority recently announced a unified school-parent contract it hopes to introduce to every private school in Dubai.

“Through our work we realised that the reasons behind many of the disputes were the same,” said Amal Bel Hasa of the KHDA.

“We also realised that schools which had clearly outlined contracts experienced fewer disputes with parents. By introducing this unified contract we are hoping to provide a better understanding for parents of their rights and duties, and thus reduce disputes.”

The new contract will be introduced as a pilot project at six private schools, which between them account for 10,000 pupils, for the 2013-2014 academic year. If successful it will be extended to the other 153 private schools, which teach 15 different curriculums to 225,000 children.

The legally binding contract requires schools to specify their policies on fee payment, refunds and admissions, attendance and punctuality, holiday periods, health and safety, and school transport.

In return, parents must provide schools with accurate medical, psychological and educational assessment records of their children, and agree dates for paying school fees.

The contract outlines an appeal procedure for parents and pupils to follow when they come into conflict with schools to ensure their “right to fair and impartial decisions affecting their educational experience”.

Parents must first meet the person or teacher directly involved in the dispute. If the problem remains unresolved, they must then go to the head of school. If the issue is still not resolved they must write an official letter to the board of governors, and a committee will look into their concern

Such a committee must include a teacher, a parent, a school leader and a member of the board of governors, none of whom should be connected to the original complaint. The committee has 10 days to investigate and issue a written report.

Only after the committee issues its report can the parent take the case further to the KHDA through contacting its Compliance and Resolution Commission.

The KHDA has the “right to uphold or repeal any and all decisions. Its final decisions are binding to both the school and parents”, according to the contract.

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British schools in UAE will cherry pick new curriculum

Pupils enjoy a science class at the primary school section of the British School Al Khubairat 300x200 British schools in UAE will cherry pick new curriculumAbu Dhabi, UAE: British schools in the UAE will not be bound by changes to England’s national curriculum that come into effect next year.

The controversial new curriculum being introduced by the UK education secretary Michael Gove has divided teaching professionals there.

It is considered far more stringent than its predecessor, with greater emphasis on skills such as essay writing, problem solving, mathematical modelling and computer programming.

But British schools overseas will not be forced to follow it to the letter, said Mark Ford, principal of Dubai British School.

“As a British school abroad, we have the luxury of being able to cherry pick the best practices from around the world,” he said.

“Just as the newly formed academies in the UK will not be forced into following the new national curriculum, schools abroad will be in the same position,” Mr Ford said.

The new curriculum has been adapted from those used in Singapore and other Far East countries – models that many schools here have already been following, said Clive Pierrepont, director of communications at Taaleem education group.

“Many schools in the region are already ahead of the game and achieve the goals proposed by the changes,” he said. “There will be a pragmatic and sensible approach to adopting any new elements of the proposed curriculum to suit local demands and student needs. Context really matters here.”

Fifty-two schools in Dubai and 28 in Abu Dhabi say they follow the curriculum.

Margaret Atack, group senior director of education at GEMS school group, which runs 10 schools following the curriculum in Dubai and three in Abu Dhabi, said these schools would review and adapt the curriculum.

“Gems has already begun to review the curriculum, identify changes required and evaluate professional development needs to ensure teachers are prepared for 2014,” she said.

Ms Atack said she was concerned about some of the changes “The question that many educationalists and parents ask is: will it deliver the expected outcomes? Exposing children to concepts earlier will not in itself make them more intelligent.

“Countries such as Singapore and Korea are cited as successful because they introduce ‘harder’ material earlier. What is not pointed out is that both of these countries committed themselves decades ago to educational reform – then set out a programme of change and stuck to it, allowing those changes to be embedded and success to be evaluated in a timely manner.

“This new curriculum was developed over a hectic two-year period, with ministers expecting a dramatic change in standards to follow.”

While schools in Dubai will also be left to implement the new curriculum as they see fit, they will be expected by the emirate’s education watchdog the Knowledge and Human Development Authority to conform to a certain standard.

“KHDA expects the schools themselves to implement changes in line with those specified by the UK government,” the authority said. However, it said all British schools would have to complete the British Schools Overseas inspection to be recognised as “offering an equivalent education to a British independent school in the UK”.

Of the 52 schools in Dubai that say they teach the curriculum, only three have been accredited by BSO.

“Other schools who describe themselves as British may be using standards or adapted standards from the National Curriculum of England and Wales, or may just be using end of school examination such as IGCSE, GCSEs and A levels,” the KHDA said. “But more schools are currently in the process of seeking accreditation from BSO.”

The leeway granted to schools abroad to implement the changes as they see fit could benefit pupils. Teachers and principals in the UK have said their government’s expectation that all schools implement the new curriculum by 2014 is too rushed.

“Changes of this nature and magnitude require time to be designed and implemented,” said Mr Ford of Dubai British School. “To redesign a complete curriculum takes more than 12 months. Such changes should also be led by the people best qualified to make them – teachers and head teachers, not the politicians.”

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Education and Social Affairs in the UAE discussed at Ramadan Majlis

Humaid Al Qatmi UAE minister of education Mariam Al Roumi UAE minister of social affairs and Dr Abdullah Al Suwaiji head of Sharjah education council speaking at Ramadan Majlis 300x197 Education and Social Affairs in the UAE discussed at Ramadan MajlisSharjah, UAE: The UAE government’s role in the human development of its citizens was highlighted as a priority by both the ministries of culture and education at a Ramadan Majlis that took place at Sharjah’s Heritage area.

Titled “Human Development… the foundation in the development process,” the discussion which was organised by the Sharjah Media Centre was attended by Mariam Al Roumi, Minister of Social Affairs, and Humaid Mohammad Obaid Al Qutami, UAE Minister of Education.

The latest projects, programmes and advancements in human development, by both ministries were underlined as a part of the countries efforts to advance educational and social affairs in the country.

The Minister of Social Affairs, Mariam Al Roumi revealed that the ministry spends over Dh2.7 billion annually on social aid for over 92,000 people. The ministry also provides social aid to over 625 families for whom it secures jobs and covers their expenses to live a decent lifestyle.

Programmes and centres for the elderly and for people with special needs, which operate under the Ministry of Social Affairs, also play a vital role in supporting disadvantaged individuals in the society, she added.

Humaid Mohammad Obaid Al Qutami, Minister of Education, also pointed out that the Ministry of Education has also prioritised the educational standards in the country which can be seen through the statistics. He stated that the number of schools has significantly increased from 13 private schools in 1971 to 489 schools, and from 132 public schools to over 700 schools. With over 80 public and private licensed universities, the number of students has also increased to nearly 900,000.

The Minister also pointed out that the UAE not only has a range of universities of international standards that cater to all its residents, but that it also offers an equal opportunity to all, including people with special needs.

Challenges

Along with the latest developments, the challenges facing both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Affairs in keeping up to date with global changes were also highlighted.

With methods of education becoming more electronic, Al Qutami stressed on the importance of keeping pace with technological advancements and the development of school curriculums.

On the social side, Mariam Al Roumi explained that the biggest challenge faced by the Ministry of Social Affairs is the refusal by people to transition from welfare to working on community development and self-sustainability.

She also highlighted technology’s negative impact on the society. “Families are being threatened because of technology — families have lost personal communication within the household as they are each occupied with technology,” she added.

The Ramadan Majlis, the second discussion in a series of six, took place at Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation.

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