Investment in technology and more training for teachers were among the many accomplishments in education last year.
The Ministry of Education has started the new year by hailing its achievements over the past 12 months and looking ahead to its plans for the coming year.
A number of initiatives were introduced last year by the ministry – which oversees and promotes K-12 education in government schools – in line with the 2020 education strategy.
The decade-long strategy outlines 10 key educational objectives – ensuring a high-quality curriculum; providing excellent teaching; developing schools and minimising dropouts; offering the best environment and tools for learning; integrating special-needs students into mainstream classrooms; affordable education for all; promoting national identity; fostering society’s investment in schools; ensuring support systems are delivered in a timely and efficient way in education zones; and ensuring administrative support is delivered quickly and efficiently by education councils.
A number of initiatives were adopted last year that aimed to strengthen and promote identity, enhance pupil’s education and prepare them for the future.
All of the ministry’s curricula was made available at Apple’s App Store, allowing students to view schoolbooks on an iPad.
Lessons for grades 11 and 12 were made into videos as part of the Durusi project, a joint effort with Etisalat and Google.
There was also an overhaul of school infrastructure using state-of-the-art technology and tools, placing UAE schools among the top 25 worldwide for online connectivity.
There are now 123 smart-learning schools, compared with only 14 in 2012. The programme benefits 11,402 students, who are now equipped with tablets, and the ministry completed the e-content project in English and Arabic.
A school leadership development programme was launched in cooperation with Pearson Education.
The five-year scheme aims to develop 700 government school leaders by offering 400 hours of training. Sixty of these leaders will travel to the United Kingdom to learn about international practices.
The ministry issued a general guideline booklet on special education to schools that were adequately equipped to integrate special-needs pupils.
Buses were also retrofitted to accommodate these students, allowing for the integration of 4,000 students in 268 schools so far.
The ministry was also pleased with its progress in meeting the training needs of teachers and administrators.
Principals received international computer literacy licences and a large number were certified as accreditation assessors.
Training programmes for new teachers were introduced, including Intel for Education, a modern education strategy course, and the new teachers’ qualifying programme.
The ministry aims to train 20,000 educational staff by the end of this academic year under these programmes.
In an unprecedented move, the ministry issued a Teachers Charter, which outlines teachers’ rights and obligations. It also launched a series of media campaigns aimed at promoting the standing of teachers in the community, mainly to attract male Emiratis to the profession.