The last decade saw major efforts in the region that dramatically increased the average level of schooling, reduced illiteracy rates and promoted gender parity in education. This decade, there has been a clear shift from considering access to focusing on quality assurance. The unified commitment of “Quality of Education for All” has set the stage for the priority in education. Current efforts focus on sustainable improvement using practical initiatives, policies, and programs that can demonstrate positive results.
In the UAE education continues to be a priority with 19.2% (AED8.2 billion ) of the total federal budget for 2012 earmarked for education. It is all about quality QUAality QUALITY! The efforts being invested by local authorities pivot on raising quality teaching and learning for increased student engagement and achievement. For example,
In Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Education Council is:
- closing villa schools and building new schools to provide modern learning environments
- expanding the New School Model (NSM) to Cycle 2 schools to further stimulate student-centered classrooms
- using technology that is embedded in classrooms with the ‘iClass’ school pilot to study the effects of interactive learning
- implementing a new Arabic assessment (‘Tama’an’ ) to improve Arabic skills of Cycle 2 Emirati pupils
- implementing “Creating Pathways to Success; the Role of Cycle 3 in Developing the UAE’s Youth to Meet its Future Needs” to reduce the dropout rate of Emiratis
- approved more private schools to accommodated additional students (anticipating 150,000 additional students over the last 10 years)
In Dubai, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority
- completed its 3rd year of inspections promoting educational quality and informed decision making for parents
- published the first report on early childhood education: Early Childhood Education and Care in Dubai
- is conducting and reporting educational research with projects such as ‘In Search of Good Education’
- signed an agreement with the Dubai School of Government to co-host a series of forums to debate education
- will host a World Bank workshop on how best to use the results of international assessments such as TIMSS (Trends in Mathematics and Science Study)
The educational improvement projects seem endless. It is not new to witness educational change efforts with good intentions. What is, however, a great stride forward is the coupling of evidence-informed decisions with these trials. The programs are being strategically developed in direct response to results (or lack of results) from key indicators – implying program effect should be measured using those same key indicators.
Now, only time will tell if the multitude of programs will be monitored for effect using those same key indicators that drove policymakers to initiate change in the system. If this does occur – given that the authorities are busy with the implementation of projectS to assure quality on a macro-level, does it suggest that there is a new role for knowledge sharing to assure evidence-informed decision making on a micro-level?
Will the different authorities share this knowledge with key stakeholder such as principals, teachers and parents? Or will they keep it classified?