ABU DHABI // Mona Mohammed al Tajer is a public school teacher from Ras al Khaimah who practises what she teaches.
The Al Royaa Secondary School Arabic teacher is a playwright and avid reader of Arabic literature, and she uses her knowledge to foster a love of the language in her students.
Her ability to make Arabic lessons into elaborate creative productions has earned her a place with 30 other winners at this year's Khalifa Award for Education.
At a ceremony for the annual awards held at the Emirates Palace yesterday, she took one of 10 prizes in the Creative Teachers in Public Education category.
"I think the award motivates young people to join this profession," said Ms al Tajer. "Our work can also inspire other teachers to enjoy their profession and do things differently to make learning more fun."
The Khalifa Awards were established four years ago as a means of recognising education initiatives and encouraging more Emiratis to become teachers.
Nominations were received from the UAE and across the Arab world in 11 categories including Creative Teachers in Public Education, Distinguished University Professors, Special Needs, Educational Research and Educational Authoring. New categories included Knowledge Networks, Sustainable Environment, and Community Service Within Education.
Prizes worth Dh12 million were distributed among the winners, with sums between Dh75,000 and Dh200,000 awarded.
The awards would "encourage those engaged in the education process to excel and enrich the field with their ideas and practices," said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister, Minster of Presidential Affairs, and Chairman of the Council of Trustees for the award.
A project at Al Mawaheb Model School in Abu Dhabi won in the Knowledge Networks category. Its staff members Mona Mohammed al Marzoqe and Eman Abu Matar began the project three years ago. "We decided to start a media centre to boost our students' communication skills," said Ms al Marzoqe.
Their classes entered collaborations with neighbouring schools to produce television shows and magazines dealing with campus life.
"It is hard work, but we are juggling all of this and seeing benefits," said Ms Matar. "Their confidence level has gone up and so have their grades. And what bigger pay than this award itself?"
Success as a teacher demanded ambition and lifelong learning, said Abeer Abdul Monem, a teacher at Al Reem Model School in Abu Dhabi. Her technique of role-playing to simplify the English language for second-language speakers also won her a Creative Teachers award.
"You cannot be selfish with your ideas and just keep it to yourself," she said. "It's about teamwork. Co-operation is what makes a teacher better."
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Creative Teacher in Public Education: Ibtisam Elayan; Ashraf Ahmed; Bushra al Shamsi; Hanan al Junaibi; Rabaa El Said; Abeer Monem; Alia al Ghafri; Muna Hasan; Nawal Bashir and Hala Allam.
Technical Teacher in Public Education: Ayman Ibrahim.
Schools in Public Education: Al Saadah Primary School in Dubai; and the Childhood Development Centre in Ras al Khaimah.
Distinguished University Professor (Teaching): Prof Mohammed Hamdy; Prof al Hajeri.
Distinguished University Professor (Scientific Research): Prof Yousef Haik; Prof Ali Chamkha; and Prof Mohammad Friawan.
Special Needs (Individual): Mahmoud al Shathily
Special Needs: Ghayathi Rehabilitation and Welfare Centre.
Creating Knowledge Networks: Al Dhabyania Private School; Al Mawaheb Model School; and Al Janaen Preparatory School.
Sustainable Environment: Liwa International School.
Community Service: The Adult Education Centre of Dubai Police.
Education Research: Samira Subhi Sadieh.
Innovative Educational Programmes: Dr Sami Shaban from UAE University; Mona Al Maghribi; of the Abu Dhabi Education Council and Alexandria University’s E-Learning Education Team.
Educational Authoring Award (Creativity): A Series of Educational Stories by Saudi Arabia’s International Curricula.
Educational Authoring Award (Child Literature): Dr Abla Morgan.