Effective professional development for teachers and school leaders is key to innovation in education, experts concluded at an education conference held in the capital on Tuesday.
“If we want to have innovative curricula, we need a curricula/pedagogy for our teachers and leaders too,” Philippa Cordingley, chief executive of the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education, UK, said. She was speaking during the fourth annual education conference, ‘The Future of Education in the UAE : Innovation and Knowledge Production.’
The two-day conference was held under the patronage of General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and president of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR).
According to Cordingley, there is a connection between continuing professional development and learning (CPDL) and innovation in school and curriculum design since teachers drive innovation and secure student creativity.
In his opening speech, Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, underscored the importance of qualified teachers in the 21st century education , in empowering youths to become global citizens.
“This cannot be achieved without qualified teachers ... If he stops learning, he cannot teach because he ceases to develop his abilities. Without effective teachers, there are no effective students,” he pointed out.
“We now live in an era of globalisation, and that the issues of education  are becoming similar in all parts of the world. We must open ourselves on the successful practices around the world, and constantly strive to get our schools, colleges and universities to be on par with international standards, because this is the right way,” Shaikh Nahyan said.
Professor Dr Taisur Subhi Yamin, Germany’s International Centre for Innovation in Education director-general, said excellence in education was aimed at preparing children to become innovators.
“In the context of excellence in education, capacity building means that we provide resources, facilities, training and mentoring in order to maximise the potential of both teachers and students; concentrate on their strengths; to advance their performance levels; and foster teachers’ and students ’ executive abilities.”
He also noted the importance of programmes designed to develop productive thinking among learners, which would help them build the competencies they need in the 21st century.
According to ECSSR director Dr Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi, the UAE was ranked by the World Economic Forum in Switzerland for the seventh consecutive year as the only Arab economy, and the 23rd globally, within the category of ‘economies based on creativity and innovation,’ out of 144 countries in the world.