UAE introduces elective learning model to help pupils reach potential

Secondary schoolchildren following Ministry of Education curriculum will be given a say in their subject choices to boost university and career prospects

DUBAI, UAE. November 5, 2014. Seniors from Al Mawakeb school attend a Math class. (Journalist: Roberta Pennington) Reem Mohammed / The National
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Pupils at public and private sector schools that follow the Ministry of Education curriculum will be given the opportunity to tailor their own studies from the next academic year to better equip them for higher education and their future careers.

The Ministry of Education on Monday announced the introduction of an elective subject model for Grade 11 and 12 learners in an effort to ensure the nation's youth reach their full potential.

The new programme will initially be introduced for Grade 11 secondary school pupils – aged 16 and 17 – in the 2023-24 academic year.

Final-year Grade 12 pupils – aged 17 and 18 – will be integrated into the new education scheme in the following year.

The Ministry of Education curriculum is taught largely at the UAE's government-run schools but is also offered at some private schools.

The ministry said the strategy would allow pupils to select subjects which best suit their academic abilities, coming in the crucial years before enrolling at university or joining the world of work.

“The elective subjects’ model will contribute to developing the educational system in the country to better meet student potentials, enabling them to excel in both their academic and professional careers," said Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of Education.

"Our goal is to use the electives' model to encourage students and parents to participate more effectively in the education process.

"Periodic evaluations will be conducted to the implementation of the new model with all schools and relevant authorities in order to monitor the system implementation and improve its outcomes.”

How does new system work?

Pupils will be required to complete six core subjects as part of their studies - Arabic language, Islamic studies, social studies/moral education, English language, maths and physical and health education.

The remaining subjects are divided into new elective groups, the first comprising biology, chemistry and physics.

The second group is made up of computing, creative design and innovation, health sciences and arts.

Pupils can devise a study plan from these elective groups to meet their interests and aspirations.

The total number of subjects and classes will vary for each pupil depending on their chosen plan, the ministry said.

UAE's education vision

Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of Education, said the new model would better meet the needs of pupils. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Last May, the UAE announced a shake-up at the Ministry of Education with new ministers chosen and a brief to re-evaluate how young people are taught.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said the goal was to ensure graduates were well prepared for workplaces of the future.

Mr Al Falasi became Minister of Education, having previously served as Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

Sarah Al Amiri, an engineer who has led the UAE's space agency during a time of significant progress, was named Minister of State for Public Education and Future Technology, and Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Emirates' Schools Establishment.

In February, the Ministry of Education said universities in the UAE would be allowed to set their own entry requirements for pupils studying at publicly run schools.

The Emirates Standardised Test, known as Emsat, will be no longer be a mandatory requirement for admission to the country's higher education institutions.

The new rules will come into effect for the start of the next academic year in September.

Universities that choose to continue to use Emsat will have the freedom to set the minimum score needed by students.

They will have the option of relying on final exams approved by the ministry or requesting other internationally approved assessments such as A levels or the International Baccalaureate.

The decision was made after discussions with universities, parents and pupils.

“It is part of the ongoing efforts to develop the national education system,” said Mr Al Falasi at the time. "The move followed multiple consultations with an aim to serve the interests of students and their academic future."

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Updated: May 22, 2023, 11:43 AM