Culture to be part of curriculum

Adec’s programme to standardise teaching of Emirati heritage begins.

Adec’s My Identity Programme outlines how schools can integrate national culture into their curriculums. Sammy Dallal / The National
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ABU DHABI // The teaching of Emirati culture and heritage in private schools will be standardised with the introduction of the My Identity Programme launched by the Abu Dhabi Education Council on Monday.

The programme outlines how schools can integrate national culture in the various curriculums that are taught across the emirate.

“It is vital to preserve values, norms and identity,” said Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, Adec director general.

“Studies have shown that private schools have been facing difficulties in implementing national identity, given the fact there are different curriculums in the private school sector. As a result, we realised national identity has not been a focus in curriculums across private schools, which is why we are asking that to change.”

The programme is being implemented over a three-year period that began on Sunday when teachers from about 50 private schools selected by Adec took part in an orientation session as part of a pilot project.

Teachers will continue to receive professional development training focused on national identity this month. The programme will extend to all cycle one schools in the next academic year and to all schools in the third year.

The programme’s framework “articulates instructions” to help teachers apply national identity to their daily lesson plans based on six components: Emirati culture, community, values, Arabic language, citizenship and history.

Adec has also assembled a team of Emiratis who will visit the schools throughout the year to provide further support, said Hamad Al Dhaheri, Adec’s executive director of the private schools and quality assurance.

“We have already started training the teachers and distributing teachers manual. The teacher will have support from the start,” said Mr Al Dhaheri. “Also, there will be a local team who will support the schools. They will visit the schools and will see the challenges. This is a pilot phase, so if there is extra support that is required, we will provide it. This is complementary, it’s a framework that offers resources, outlines expected outcomes.”

As part of the unified school inspections, schools are graded on how they teach national identity and culture.

“We will give the teachers resources, the bibliography website, field trip ideas, sample lesson plans,” said Dr Maryam Al Ali, school development division manager for Adec.

“We have a list of recommended texts. These books are safe because it’s aligned with Adec. We reviewed them. The books we list are approved by Adec. They’re safe.”

Dr Al Ali said many schools were already doing a good job of teaching national identity, but the lessons weren’t structured and centred mostly around events such as the National Day.

“Some schools are doing a lot of excellent work to reinforce national identity but with no formal structure, strategy or consistent oversight,” said Dr Al Ali.

“This is a curriculum, it’s a programme. They were just doing, like, activities or events, so this combines everything and lists learning outcomes. They have to fulfil or meet learning outcomes.”

The My Identity Programme was developed after Adec commissioned a study and held focus groups with students, parents, teachers and administrators that showed “the majority feel that national identity should be strengthened”.

According to Adec, there was a need for “a curriculum framework and resources for teaching national identity, as well as greater opportunities for professional development”.