What can you expect from EduEval in 2016?

EduEval has evolved over the years since its inception in 2010. We have enjoyed working closely with governments, private school operators, NGOs and corporate partners to help support evidence-informed decision making in the education sector. We are excited that we have been able to grow in the MENA region. Our growth is a recognition that there is a need for high quality consulting for all stakeholders who want better education for a knowledge-based society.

As we have grown, we do need to make sure that we continue to meet the needs of the community that engages with us. So we have made a few changes and we are working on a few exciting internal projects to share with you.
So what can you expect from us in 2016? 
  1. We will be changing our name from EduEval Educational Consultancy to EduEval! This represents our organic growth as we have built several verticals where we will continue to promote the same level of excellence in evidence-informed decision making on a broader scale.
  2. We are working on a School Choice Guide for parents in Dubai. We have been approached by several parents and concerned stakeholders over the years. Parents who need help in understanding how to make the best decision for their child when it comes to choosing a private school in Dubai. This guide will be available soon – so keep your eyes on us.
  3. We will be publishing more on understanding the practical link between assessment for learning, the role of technology and promoting better teaching and learning. So follow us on twitter and you will notice more activity sharing relevant information about education.
  4. We will be directly engaging with communities to promote our new initiative: Industry Connect. This is a great series of programs that are being developed with corporate partners and schools to promote a greater link between the theoretical learning in schools and real-wold applications.
  5. We will continue our commitment to excellence by relying on assessment, monitoring, evaluation and research to make informed decisions that promote the best practices in education in the MENA region.
Thank you for all of your support over the years of our infancy. We appreciate all of our followers, our partners, our clients. We also appreciate the time from the students, parents, teachers, school leaders, and high level bureaucrats who have given us their trust and engaged with EduEval.
We have received many accolades and statements of gratitude from our stakeholders. Each of these positive reflections have meant a great deal to all of the professionals who have worked tirelessly to ensure a high quality service since we started this company.

From the EduEval family, we wish you a wonderful new year and lets make 2016 one where we can focus on cultivating motivated confident happy young independent 21st century learners.

Happy new year!

Sonia Ben Jaafar, PhD
Managing Director
EduEval Educational Consultancy

Progressive vision in Dubai private schools at What Works 2015

The third What Works event and first in 2015 was held on the 19th of January. Educational professionals from all over Dubai private schools came together to exchange their best practices on teaching, learning and leadership in schools. This series also included the signature workshops dedicated to  professional knowledge sharing for school leaders where a key talking point was the challenge to meet the National Agenda 2021 and Dubai Plan 2021. Schools are being asked to improve student achievement and improve Dubai’s ranking on international tests. Private school leaders are taking this tall order from HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum very seriously. The message is clear, residents of Dubai should be assured that their kids are in schools that are one of the best in the world!

With this demand hanging in the Dubai air; it was only natural that What Works dedicates a series of leadership workshops on school self-evaluation where school leaders exchange their expertise to promote systemic measurable school improvement. At this particular event in January, there was a focus on the practical coupling of performance management and school vision.

Effective educational leaders help their schools to develop or endorse visions that embody the best thinking about teaching and learning.

– Task Force on Developing Research in Educational Leadership (2003)

With this in mind, a group of school leaders from Dubai schools reviewed their approaches on:

  1. How they reflect the needs of their school in the school vision?
  2. How they ensure the vision is appreciated and owned by various stakeholders?; and
  3. How they make the vision operational in daily practice across the school?

visionThere is no scarcity of literature on the galvanizing effect of a progressive school vision that is well implemented. Moreover, a quick visit to most Dubai private schools will show that vision statements are a dime a dozen boasting laudable goals of whole student development, 21st century skills and the fostering of life-long learners.

So why all the attention on school vision and performance management?

This audience took progressive school vision a step further. They talked about the alignment of school-based outcomes and the vision with an explicit purpose: the daily practices in their schools should result in desired outcomes. This is a shift from static leader-driven visions to a shared vision that promotes a learning organization.

You cannot have a learning organisation without a shared vision…A shared vision provides a compass to keep learning on course when stress develops

– Peter Senge

This meant a few tweaks in how some leaders were thinking about their school vision. Yes, it is good to consider the desired outcome when creating a vision. But, it is also necessary to consider the evidence of the current context using data collected from various sources such as assessment results, staff anperformanced student attendance rates, staff turnover rates, disciplinary incidents, parental surveys, and student questionnaires. These data can be utilized to develop evidence-based strategies for a vision that moves schools from the abstract to the real – in other words, from traditional goals to progressive goals using a SMART framework. Progressive goals that will support an actionable school improvement plan to get the most out of the school vision.

Evaluator Networks on the Rise in MENA

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The EvaMENA final forum marks the close of the first chapter on a great story that still has a long way to go. Three years ago, the International Development and Research Center (IDRC) funded a project to promote evaluation capacity in the MENA region. The project is housed at the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit at the American University of Beirut. Three years ago, the only region with less than a handful of professional networks for evaluators was MENA. A small group of volunteers with big aspirations for the region wanted to ensure that MENA did not fall behind and started to cultivate an environment where knowledge sharing and creation in Arabic, English and French would promote the growth and development of a locally based evaluation culture.

Evaluators from Western, African & Asian countries will be accustomed to the benefits of organizations like AEA, EES, SLEvA & AfrEA where debates, tools, workshops, resources and job posts are shared with professional interest. For MENA-based evaluators, the EvalMENA network is a breath of fresh professional air.

There were a few driving forces behind the creation of EvalMENA. For starters, it was lonely to be an evaluator in MENA. You needed to wait a few time zones and ensure that you have fluency in a foreign language to access the documents, resources, and support that so many evaluators globally take for granted. In addition, once you had gained additional skills and were excited to take it back to your local community of inspiring evaluators, there is a language barrier! After all, most Arabs speak, read, write and work in Arabic when in an Arab country. Finally – as a global MENA evaluator, you also needed to be familiar with the prominent evaluation discourse to export local value to the larger international community of evaluators.

But this frustration is slowly dissipating as EvalMENA has managed to grow a MENA-wide network of strong evaluators who are multi-lingual and have been working in the field for many years. In addition to offering several workshops and cultivating a shared vision across several countries and contexts, the group has harnessed the energies and capacities of the MENA evaluators to create an online free course in Arabic for evaluators.

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It took an impressive amount of work, coordination and dedication for دورةتعليميةباللغةالعربيةحولتقييمالتنمية to become a part of the introductory e-Learning programme on Development Evaluation offered by UNICEF and IOCE, under the EvalPartners. The program opens the door to ensuring capacity building for development evaluation is accessible to evaluators in the Arab world who are arabophone – opening the door to more opportunities for local evaluators as the demands and recognition for evaluation is growing in the region.

This collective of professionals has demonstrated the power of knowledge sharing and creation in real-time across barriers of language, time, ICT platforms, and cultures. The group also boasts the emergence of country-based evaluation groups (e.g., Jordan and Tunisia) that are being encouraged by the values and work of EvalMENA & friends.

ImageGiven that 2015 has been declared as the International Year of Evaluation and it is the year where the MDGs are moving tImageo SDGs , the EvalMENA group work seems like it was just in time! But this is only a start in advocating for evidence-based policy making in the MENA region where challenges of low projected economic growth is clashing with a growing unemployment rate (16.8M by 2015!). In a region where concerning illiteracy rates are predicted to rise with millions of displaced people because of political and environmental crises. The list of challenges is growing and the solutions need to be viable and scalable. Local evaluators will be critical to helping key decision makers find the best approaches to promote local development.