Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) today unveiled its school facilities program at the Building Schools Exhibitions and Conference – Middle East and North Africa (BSEC MENA) held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on 13th and 14th December 2009. BSEC MENA commenced with an opening ceremony led by H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court. The school facilities program will see the building of 18 new schools across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi starting in mid-2010. These are the first new schools to be developed under ADEC’s 10 Year Strategic Plan.
The schools will include seven Cycle 1 (Grade KG-5) schools, seven combined Cycle 2 and Cycle 3 schools (Grades 6-12), two Cycle 3 schools (Grades 10-12), and two KG-12 schools. The program will provide learning environments of the highest quality that support current teaching methods and new curricula while supporting the population growth of the Emirate.
“ADEC’s 10 Year Strategic Plan is a historic transformation of the education system that will deliver educational excellence. Providing students with world class learning environments is a key element of our 10 year plan and is the foundation for achieving excellence,” said H.E. Salem Al Sayeri, Acting Director General of ADEC.
“With the best facilities to support them, students will have a greater chance of achieving their learning goals and will be better able to help Abu Dhabi reach its goal of economic diversification and growth. I am delighted that we have Musanada as our partner in delivering better schools for a better future” added H.E. Al Sayeri.
Established by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Musanada develops and manages cost-effective and responsive services for the Government of Abu Dhabi. As part of its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ADEC, Musanada will provide design and construction management services as well as construction supervision for each of the 18 sites. Musanada has enlisted the support of a leading global firm to provide premier technical, engineering, construction, and management support. Concept and schematic designs were developed by ADEC with the support of world class architectural firms. A ceremony to mark the signing of the MOU was conducted at BSEC MENA today.
Signing the MOU on behalf of Musanada, CEO Mohamed Khalifa Al Fahed Al Mehairi said, “Our government leaders have said that education is one of the government’s top priorities for the Emirate so we see our role in ADEC’s school facilities program as more than just being a service provider. This MOU is a sign of our commitment to the young people of Abu Dhabi and the future of our Emirate.”
The new school designs will contain features not seen at schools in Abu Dhabi before. ADEC held an International Concept Design competition, inviting a number of prestigious architectural firms to submit their proposals. Firms were asked to submit innovative designs implementing the concept of “learning communities” in which the student is the centre of the learning process, and where classrooms and science labs are integrated with break out areas allowing multiple learning opportunities. Learning communities encourage students to work together in a process that develops critical thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.
“What we are doing is creating a new way of learning. Development of analytical skills in our students is a key objective of ADEC’s strategic plan and these new learning communities combined with the other innovative features of our school designs will help bring this initiative to life,” Hamad Al-Daheri, Director of Infrastructure and Facilities at ADEC, said. “In addition, research has proven that a well-designed school building could be a decisive factor on driving student achievement, and retaining quality teachers.”
ADEC received more than 27 proposals from firms located around the world, and after careful examination has selected three designs that will serve as the model for future school development in the Emirate. The Planar Model features classrooms arranged along the perimeter of the building, with specialized common spaces, such as labs and music rooms, concentrated in the middle spine.
The Studio E/Tawreed Model will be used predominantly for Cycle 1 schools, and features defined learning communities set between outdoor learning facilities. The Lumiset model designed for Cycle 2 and Cycle 3 schools is organized along a central space that has a triangular shape and accommodates communal facilities such as a library, ICT labs, and a cafeteria.
ADEC’s new school designs will be economical, and easy to build and operate. For the first time, sustainability features have been incorporated into school design such as energy efficient air conditioning systems, and water saving devises. Orientations, insulation and shading devises have been carefully planned, and all the electricity required for daily consumption in classrooms will be generated on the school site.
Other key features of the new school designs include special attention to maximizing the use of daylight, and maintaining indoor air quality acoustics and thermal comfort to provide students and teachers with a healthy, safe and stimulating work environment.
Labs and ICT rooms will also be furnished and equipped with the latest technology, and every educational space in the new school buildings will be fitted for wireless Internet connections.
For the first time also there will be dedicated classrooms for music, art and design, and technology that will be fully equipped to support diverse learning opportunities. The new school designs will include sport facilities, swimming pools, auditoriums, libraries and other spaces which can be used by the community after school hours.
BSEC MENA also staged the final announcement and awarding of the winning schools of the Future Schools Design Competition, which challenged school teams in all three cycles to design and create a model school. The competition involved 130 schools throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, with the top 18 displaying their models to a panel of judges on November 9. The winning teams were Al Afaq Model School (Cycle 1), Al Yarmouk School (Cycle 2), and Sir Bani Yas School (Cycle 3). Awards were given to the competitors at Al Afaq Model School on 16 November at an awards ceremony, with winning teams receiving a laptop for each member.
“The Future Schools Design Competition not only provided students with a valuable creative integrated learning opportunity, it also gave us insight into the features and elements of school design that appeal to students,” H.E Mr Sayeri said. “A number of elements that we plan to incorporate into our new schools, such as sustainability features, spaces for creative activity and sports, and open environments, were important to these students as they were envisioning the future of schools in the Emirate.”
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