A hiring spree is under way for a new brand of private-sector-run government schools that will open in September.
Ajyal Schools, or Generation Schools, will be operated by leading private sector education groups Taaleem, Aldar Education and Bloom Education, and will serve about 14,000 pupils nationwide.
Existing public schools will be revamped and taken over by the education providers, who say new-look classes will embrace technology, science and innovation, and help prepare young Emiratis for jobs of the future.
Ten schools will be run by these groups in the first year, rising to 28 within three years.
They will initially teach children in younger age groups - from Grade 1 to 4 - before expanding to include Grades 5 and 6 in 2024.
New look, new vision
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced the establishment of the revamped schools on Monday.
He said the decision followed structural changes to the education system set out last month following the election of the President, Sheikh Mohamed. The strategy was launched by Emirates Schools Establishment, which manages and operates public schools.
Tuition fees will be funded by the government, as is largely the case with public schools. Most pupils in government schools are Emiratis.
New ministers were appointed under plans to re-evaluate how young people are taught, with an increased focus on improving state schools and early childhood development.
From Arabic to English
Taaleem and Bloom Education, which will run six of the first 10 schools, said lessons will be taught in English. Until now, in government schools there was more of a split, with maths and science taught in English, and most other subjects in Arabic.
The two groups said the schools they operate would switch from the Ministry of Education curriculum to American curriculum.
Arabic and Islamic Studies classes will continue to follow the MOE curriculum.
While existing Arabic language, Islamic studies and social studies teachers will remain in place at the schools, there will be a hiring spree for "highly qualified and experienced" teachers for subjects such as science and mathematics.
Of the initial 10 schools, four will be run by Taaleem, four by Aldar Education and the remaining two by Bloom Education.
Nilay Özral, chief executive of Bloom Education, told The National it would operate schools in Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah.
She said the new education model, much like charter schools in Abu Dhabi, would aim to improve the quality of education offered to citizens and would include a larger focus on science and environmental studies.
“We will improve teaching and learning strategies. There will be a lot more science focus, environmental topics, and a lot more extra-curricular activities to broaden pupil’s interests,” said Ms Özral.
“We have been successful in running similar models in our schools and we use modern technology to present good pedagogical instructions alongside promoting the UAE’s culture and its history and heritage.”
The new schools will be open to Emirati pupils and will adopt the same calendar as existing public schools.
'More options and opportunities'
Sarah Al Amiri, an engineer who led the UAE's space agency during historic missions, has been asked to oversee public education and how young people are taught about technology. Ms Al Amiri acts as Minister of State for Public Education and Future Technology and chairwoman of the board of directors of the Emirates Schools Establishment.
She said the project will "develop the educational system in the country, provide more options, opportunities, and educational models for our students".
Last year, two schools in Dubai, in the Mirdif and Barsha neighbourhoods, opened under a public-private partnership model.
New teachers to be hired
Ms Özral said the group would be recruiting new staff.
"We have that know-how and we know how to quickly recruit, how to fill in positions, how to do very good induction programmes and, how to train teachers,” she said.
Heather Mann, director of education at Taaleem, said the group would be taking over schools in Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah for the next academic year.
Taaleem's school population will grow from 20,000 in 2021 to 27,000 this year.
Ms Mann said the schools were aimed at preparing young Emiratis for university or careers of the future.
“It's part of the push that the government has on improving education right across the Emirates,” said Ms Mann.
"Arabic and the Arabic subjects are vitally important to us and then it is the core subjects, English, language, arts, mathematics, and science.
“There is a renewed emphasis on innovation, science and technology and this is something we will strengthen in the schools.
“Previously, the pupils have been taught in Arabic. So there's a big focus on English language development."
Ms Mann said recruitment for new teachers was already under way.
“We are recruiting new teachers, new homeroom teachers and new specialist teachers,” she said.
"For the Arabic subjects, the Arabic, Islamic, moral education, those who will be existing teachers, because it’s important to have some continuity. But in terms of the homeroom teachers and the leadership team, we will be recruiting and are well underway with the recruitment of new teams.”
The schools will place an emphasis on Arabic studies.