National Reforms and Role of Public-Private Partnership in Teacher Training Explored
Policy decisions cannot be made in silos, and creative collaboration across ministries and departments is a must for introducing integrated reforms and policies in education, according to Dr. Ian Haslam, Vice Chancellor and CEO of Emirates College for Advanced Education, Abu Dhabi.
Dr. Haslam’s comments came during a panel discussion organized by the Dubai School of Government, one of the region’s premier institutes of public policy.
Titled “Teachers and Teaching in the UAE,” the event is the third and final segment in the Education Policy Forum Series hosted in conjunction with Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National. The session explored challenges to building a quality teaching workforce, teachers’ satisfaction levels with the education and training they receive, and how teacher training is transforming education in the UAE.
Panelists at the discussion also included Jane Truscott, Academic Programme Coordinator for Madares Al Ghad, Ministry of Education; Dr. Peggy Blackwell, Dean, College of Education, Zayed University; and Jill Clark, Principal Curriculum Advisor, Early Years, Centre for British Teachers (CfBT), Abu Dhabi.
Dr. Natasha Ridge, Research Fellow at the Dubai School of Government, moderated the session and reinforced the need for new techniques to be introduced to engage students effectively.
She said: “We have conducted extensive research across schools in the UAE and our findings indicate that the students, especially males, do not perceive education as having a significant impact on their lives and future. We identified a gap in the education experience that is reflected in students’ attitude towards their schooling.”
Speakers also identified key challenges they experienced while preparing teachers for careers in schools that may or may not employ the advanced teaching techniques imparted by teacher training courses. They also emphasized the need to work within schools and shift their approach towards more student-centric and participatory teaching methods rather than the existing teacher-centric, instruction-based learning.
Speaking about the challenge of motivating and retaining teachers within the profession, Dr. Peggy Blackwell said: “Teachers can be motivated to stay within the system through many creative loyalty solutions that do not necessarily require a revision of the remuneration structure. The governing authorities can introduce licenses and certificates which can be awarded to teachers when they reach professional benchmarks.”
The session further addressed the relevance of newer techniques while teaching in Arabic. The concerns raised included the amount of time spent on teaching Arabic, the preparedness of students to learn Arabic and the diminishing importance of Arabic as the primary language of instruction while teaching key concepts such as science and mathematics.
The discussion concluded with a consensus that meaningful partnerships need to be fostered between the state, the education machinery and other government entities to draft defining policies that impact children’s development. All concurred that while this may still need significant time and co-ordination effort, it would be a step in the right direction.
Established in 2005 in cooperation with the Harvard Kennedy School, the Dubai School of Government is committed to the creation of knowledge and the dissemination of global best practices in the Arab world. The institution conducts various programs that seek to enhance the region’s capacity for effective public policies.
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