By Preeti Kannan
18 August 2008
DUBAI - At the helm of a new academic year, principals, teachers and mentors of the 50 Madares Al Ghad (MAG) or Future Schools in the UAE pledged on Sunday for a renewed thrust on English language and making its pupils more Internet savvy. Mathematics and Science would be taught in English in these schools, for the first time.
Nearly 150 teachers, principals, mentors and new faculty of the future schools come together in Dubai for a three-day orientation on curriculum changes, roles and expectations of teachers, Ministry of Education (MoE) curriculum standards, and an overview of the goals and reforms as the schools enter their second year.
The schools, however, follow a separate curriculum, designed to meet international standards.
Dr Hanif Hassan, Minister of Education, told the educators, 'The vision of the education reform effort is to create in the UAE a world-class public education system that will not only serve the children of our country, but will also become the model for public education throughout the Middle East.'
He noted that the MAG schools would include children of all abilities and interests. 'We'll produce graduates who are proficient in both Arabic and English, knowledgeable about and committed to their rich heritage and culture, skilled in the use of information and communication technology, well-educated in Mathematics and Science and prepared for direct entry into higher education institutions world-wide.'
Dr Hassan also stressed that one of the primary goals of reform was to 'progressively increase the involvement of Emirati teachers and school administrators as educational leaders in their schools and in their communities.'
Dr Foazia Badri, Executive Director of Educational Affairs at the MoE, told Khaleej Times, 'MAG schools are a model for the other schools. The MAG project began with 50 schools and we plan to expand the number to more schools in the future.'
Several American, European and English speaking teachers have been integrated into the project as part of the ministry's efforts to improve language proficiency.
She said that this year, a bilingual curriculum in health education would be introduced, besides classes in English in the intermediate and secondary schools. While English as a subject was already being taught, students will now learn Mathematics and Science in English as well, while Arabic studies, Islamic and Social Studies will remain in Arabic.
Nasser Baniyas, Principal of the Muath Bin Jabal School, a MAG school in Sharjah, observed that for the new academic year, the ministry has provided the school with laptops for teachers, Wi-fi Internet connection and more computers for students. 'We have also set up libraries with English books and students have been provided with textbooks, unlike last year, when they had their lessons on sheets of paper,' he said.
Educators also observed that the interest in these schools was growing with some MAG schools in zones like Abu Dhabi having long waiting lists and parents clamouring for admissions in them.
Khaleej Times Online, THE U.A.E.