Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, stressed that the Emirati schools have become more established, developed and up-to-date with the best international systems. He added that the ministry has conducted a series of continuous improvement programmes, as part of their development efforts to adopt the best educational standards and practices in the country’s education system, as well as to establish a complete plan to create a favourable school environment for a new school year, which is encouraging and attractive to children.
Al Hammadi made his statement during a media briefing at the ministry’s headquarters in Dubai, with the attendance of Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, and senior officials from the ministry and representatives of various media authorities and channels, to introduce the ministry’s latest educational updates and its preparations for the new school year 2017-2018.
He added that the Ministry of Education was moving forward with diligent steps to complete the educational courses it had begun to develop, according to the modern educational philosophy. It has begun that by launching the Emirati school, which was a result of the best international systems and is partnering with the leading educational, government and private organisations in the country in line with the national vision of the wise leadership.
He stressed that the media was a strategic partner of the ministry in introducing the developmental efforts and intensifying the work that would guarantee that the new educational vision would reach the school community, along with its different components.
Stressing that the community’s roles were of extreme importance in strengthening the advancement of education in the country and spreading it, not only on the local level, but also externally, he noted the education in the UAE was competitive, which would subsequently contribute towards making it the first choice for many, whether it be to study or to work.
Teachers' attendance and Specialized Training
He highlighted the developmental work done by the ministry’s work teams to prepare for the new school year and congratulated the students and their parents, and the academic and administrative staff. He also wished them a strong and prosperous start to the school year while reflecting on the scientific performance and level of the students, and he noted that the work of the academic staff will begin on Monday, with three days being assigned for specialised training required by the ministry during the first week, which will include around 13,331 teachers, laboratory specialists, education staff and academic guides.
Number of Students
He explained that the new school year will witness the return of over a million students from around the country on 10th September while stressing that the number of academic staff in the national schools run by the Ministry of Education has reached 22,282 teachers, with 11,163 in Dubai and the Northern Regions, and 11,119 in Abu Dhabi. The total number of public schools run by the ministry is 642 schools, with 384 in Dubai and the Northern Regions and 258 in Abu Dhabi.
He pointed out that the ministry has sought to achieve an effective learning environment through the development of educational facilities and the improvement of the construction in a sustainable manner as well as its rearrangement to be more attractive. A vision was put in place for the development of educational facilities, whose age is less than 15 years given that the school building is one of the most essential elements.
He added that the development plan includes all the elements of the building’s ‘architectural, mechanical, electrical and health’ components in terms of developing the facades, external walls, the reception hall, the main entrance, administrative rooms and classes. It also involves utilising the space and establishing a community library, laboratories, and school facilities, as well as closing and air conditioning all passageways, and developing natural scenery.
Besides, it will be provided with a fire extinguishing system, and alarm and voice evacuation, according to the conditions of the Civil Defense. The idea is to prepare all classes for smart education and create a cafeteria for the students.
He highlighted that the ministry has put 24 schools and 16 kindergartens under the school development project plan, which will be completed before the start of the new school year. He pointed out that the comprehensive maintenance work was started in 2017 as part of the educational facilities management plan. The facilities Department has developed a plan for the number of schools to be maintained by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development which are: 27 schools that include health, electrical and civil works and are expected to be completed before the start of the new academic year.
As for preventive maintenance, he pointed out that the ministry has given contracts to three specialised companies to perform regular and preventative maintenance and guarantee that the educational establishments remain in fully operational condition. The electromechanical and civil works include 417 schools across all regions.
Attracting Educational Competencies
Commenting on appointments for the academic year 2017/2018, H.E. Hussain Al Hammadi pointed out that 1576 teachers have been appointed for all specialties from January until now. The number of appointments of engineers working in the educational sector is 7 engineers according to the initiative to attract the best graduates. The number of candidates for appointments from 'Teach For UAE' program reached 19 teachers for kindergartens and Arabic language.
He added that 22 teachers and two specialists have been appointed for implementing the Chinese language initiative for grade 10, which will be implemented starting from the new school year, noting that the total number of safety officers who have been assigned is 50 out of 185.
Initiatives to promote Smart Learning Technology
As for IT, H.E. pointed out the ministry has launched several initiatives that contribute to enhancing technology in the educational process through the establishment of an interactive electronic platform (Al Diwan) for teachers and students to provide educational curricula electronically on all types of devices with a total number of 51700 users.
He added that an integrated electronic assessment platform for tests has been established. The total number of students who have been tested electronically is 27,000 students for various subjects, as well as the establishment of an integrated technical support unit to serve schools and the educational field. The number of technical support engineers reached 151 engineers with a central communication unit (Call Center) adopting the best ISO standards for information security management.
Commenting on the development of the smart educational environment in schools, H.E. Hussain Al Hammadi explained that schools were equipped with 53,901 laptops distributed to school students. 42,891 laptops are being distributed in addition to 2,742 smartboards for the 2017-2018 year as well as 1,350 for this year. 9,916 portable devices had been distributed to teachers and 4,343 are being distributed this year.
He added that the schools were supported by a centrally managed high-performance printers' system, the distribution of two connected printers to each school, as well as providing school laboratories with PC computers. The total number of distributed devices was 11,000 and 6,000 are being distributed during the current year. Infrastructure of 405 schools has been upgraded and linked to the data center with increased connection capacity from 50 to 100 megabytes.
He explained that a specialized training was provided on using the smart learning systems, Microsoft applications and electronic maturity for 12,107 teachers and school administrators. The field was strengthened with a specialized team to support schools in activating the use of the smart learning systems and software with a mechanism to follow up on the electronic maturity of schools. A set of software and websites was launched, and electronic services were restructured to enrich the experience of customers and bring the smart electronic transformation of the Ministry to a smart one to full fruition. An initiative to develop an integrated system for the environment of learning and digital education for the Emirati school was launched, including features that contribute to strengthening of the educational process based on of the latest technologies as well as providing integrated data on the educational system and the educational performance of all entities and individuals.
Commenting on the curricula, H.E. the Minister of Education said that the Ministry has approved several major changes for the secondary school students in the general track, as part of its plans for the new academic year. Changes included the redistribution of scientific materials, after a review and evaluation carried out for all stages to serve the interests of the students and contribute to providing an attractive learning environment based on interaction between the two sides of the educational process.
He pointed out that the Ministry has also made a substantial improvement in the social studies and education materials from grades 1-9 as part of its plans for the academic year 2017-2018 in line with the Ministry's vision and philosophy to develop students' knowledge and enhance their national identity based on the standards of the National Education and Social Studies Framework 2014.
He referred to the elite track within the advanced science program, which he described as a first-degree distinguished academic program that motivates students to overcome the challenges and offers distinguished learning opportunities for talented students. He pointed out that this track is universally acknowledged as a criterion for academic excellence in universities.
He said that upon graduating from the Advanced Science Program, students will compete to enter the best universities in the world and within the UAE. The track, in collaboration with the American College Board, offers an encouraging scientific environment for creative students to meet the latest international requirements.
He continued: The Ministry of Education has expanded the advanced science program for the elite track for the academic year 2018/2017 to include the grades 6 to 9 after it was limited to grade 7. It also developed the track in six new schools in addition to the original 17 schools with a total of 23 schools with an elite track covering across the country.
He pointed out that the number of students in the elite track for the past academic year has reached 1113 and is expected to reach 4500 students in the new academic year 2017-2018 as the admission continues.
He explained that the number of printed books for the first semester was 332, for both public and private education, adult education and religious education. He pointed out that 35 books were created for the new academic year and that the sources of learning in schools were provided with 774 titles for 430,900 books.
He added that the number of books printed for the first semester of the new year for public and private schools nationwide reached 4 million and 250 thousand books.
Developing Learning Resource Centers
He highlighted that the Ministry of Education is working to support the educational process in line with the strategies of the ministry through the creation and preparation of learning sources (learning resource centers, school laboratories) in all public education schools and kindergartens in accordance with the best systems, standards and global practices. This aims to stimulate creativity and innovation to achieve the desired objectives of education. Seven centers were developed in the first phase in 2016 and 40 centers were developed in 2017 covering all levels including 16 kindergartens as well as the Ministry's libraries.
He added that a document has been prepared for the learning resources. It contains a set of manuals for standardizing the procedures, policies and specifications that govern the work in the learning resource centers in schools to ensure that their role is activated to attain their goals and affirm their positive and effective participation in the educational process.
In this context, he said that contracts have been signed as well for the purchase of printing rights with a group of 23 Arab and international publishing houses. He pointed out that the rights of 35 books (stories and novels) have purchased which were included in the methodological stories in various stages of school, as well as signing contracts for the purchase of copyrights with local authors, Arabs and others.
He highlighted that three field studies covering all schools were conducted to survey the current reality of 409 learning resource centers, 1150 school laboratories, and visual arts requirements for 409 schools.
His Excellency continued: As part of the strategic goals of the Ministry of Education for learning resources and educational solutions in providing a safe, supporting and stimulating school environment according to international standards aligned with the goals and ambitions of the developed Emirati Schools, the Ministry of Education has adopted an ambitious plan for the development of school laboratories: 130 laboratories in the Ministry of Education schools, the Ministry of Education during 2017.
He pointed out that the ministry has completed the preparation of 65 halls for the health science in several schools in Dubai and the Northern Emirates in preparation for the next academic year, dedicated to females in grades 10 and 11, in line with its strategy to develop various educational policies and the learning environment according to the best international standards to create an attractive and welcoming educational environment for students.
He added that these improvements come within the framework of the Ministry of Education's efforts to establish a sound awareness and culture among students by opening the door for field practices for them through these halls to apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical and thoughtful manner to the highest standards in this field.
Moral Education Class
Under the generous directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Ministry of Education will launch its joint plan with the Court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, education councils and commissions to introduce "More Education" among the curricula and school subjects for academic year 2017/2018. The class aims at building character, instilling moral values, caring for the community and culture of love and respect. He pointed out that the curriculum will be applied at private and public schools nationwide from grades 1 to 9 in 2017/2018.
Commenting on the inspection sector, he said all inspection procedural manuals have been prepared for public and higher education institutions and early childhood institutions which will be activated as of the beginning of the next school year. He pointed that inspection standards and forms have been developed and linked to the strategic directions developed for the ministry to ensure the compliance of all educational institutions nationwide with the approved policies, regulations and systems as well as enhancing the quality, competence and governance of the educational performance in the country to reach the desired excellence in the performance of educational institutions.
He pointed out that the inspection sector is launching its electronic system, which has been developed in line with the international best practices to abandon the paper forms and reports and automate all inspection processes and standardize their tools among all the inspection teams by granting expanded powers to the heads of the inspection departments in the educational zones to plan and follow up inspection operations. The system will also provide comprehensive and accurate inspection reports around the clock.
He added that starting from the next school year, the concept of self-inspection will be implemented in all UAE schools through the qualification of coordinators in public and private schools and introducing them to the standards, fields and supervisory elements to encourage the educational institutions to examine their compliance with the policies, laws and regulations of the ministry independently using the online system developed for the inspection sector. This comes in preparation for the inspection visit by the inspection teams to ensure optimal investment of the time allocated for the implementation of the inspection visit.
Attention to Kindergarten
On her part, Her Excellency Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi stressed that the Ministry has given special attention to the stage of kindergarten driven by its belief in the importance of this stage in developing the various stages of education that followed. The Ministry has developed special curricula for kindergartens and designed appropriate learning resources for the students' in order to match their age interests and desires, pointing out that the ministry is striving to develop the skills of children in the Arabic language and English, in parallel with the implementation of a specialized training program for kindergarten teachers to ensure the desired results.
She highlighted that the Ministry intends to launch the "teacher license" next school year aiming to ensure the continuity of the process of developing the skills of teachers and providing them with experiences and tools that contribute to the achievement of all educational plans and policies and attraction of educational competencies, which will serve the ambitious objectives of the Ministry and reaching the envisaged educational goals.
She elaborated that the ministry has developed a full plan for teaching the moral education subject next school year. The ministry has appointed coordinators for the subject to be a training nucleus for all teachers who will teach the subject to the students later, pointing out the importance of moral education in establishing a value system that the ministry seeks to embody in the school community. She noted that the Ministry has set standards in the selection of teachers of the subject based on their ability to communicate ideas of the subject and its applications to students.
She explained that the ministry, as part of its next school year preparations, emphasized the importance of student academic advising and expanded the list of students targeted in academic advising to include grade 9 to introduce students to the academic majors on the university level which will expand their horizons and knowledge of prospects of job market and serves the country's ambitious plans to transform to the knowledge-based economy. She pointed out that the ministry will get the help of university students to assist the ministry in the field of academic advising.