UAE Improves education by licensing teachers for better knowledge delivery

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By Abraham Jonah, Middle East

WED, NOVEMBER 2 2016-A pilot project aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning across the UAE, is being rolled out across 15 private schools in Dubai. More than 200 teachers are expected to participate in the Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards (TELS) and Licensing pilot project.

Dr Thani Ahmed Al Mehairi, Director General of National Qualifications Authority (NQA) and chair of Supreme National Steering Committee said, “The teacher licensing project is designed to achieve goals set out in UAE National Agenda. This will lead to a higher quality of teaching which is based on professional standards and guarantees minimum knowledge and skills associated with teaching.”

UAE Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards have been developed by education regulators in the UAE to ensure teachers at different career stages can demonstrate professional competence and provide first rate teaching and learning for learners across the UAE.

As part of the teacher-licensing project, the competence of teachers will be mapped against performance criteria and indicators. Teachers will have to demonstrate knowledge and understanding along with skills and application as part of the requirements of acquiring a teaching license.

Dr Thani added, “The project will adopt a specific career path for education licensing which includes the undertaking of modules to meet licensing requirements. The renewal will be based on performance assessment and professional development requirements which will lead to the development of a clear professional path for teachers.”

Dr Thani appreciated the efforts of the national steering committee to oversee the implementation of the project by involving all stakeholders.

The UAE Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards align with the aspirations of the UAE Vision in adapting international best practices for teaching and thus creating a first rate education system. Teachers will undergo professional development and assessment, which will be aimed at standardizing their skills and practice to ensure a high quality of teaching and learning in schools.

Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said, “Teacher licensing is a pioneering project that will allow us to see an improvement in the quality of teaching and help achieve the objectives outlined in the UAE National Agenda. This is a good opportunity for the UAE to produce a teacher licensing system which can work as a global tool. By working with diverse curriculums, this project will present itself as a valuable opportunity for teachers to improve their skills in line with international standards.”

Dr Abdulla added, “The teacher licensing project will have a positive impact on the overall quality of education and it will also extend greater career opportunities to teachers by improving their mobility.”

Dr Naji Al Mahdi, Chief of Qualifications and Awards in Dubai explained the implementation of teacher licensing project will be spread over three stages. In the first stage, teachers will apply for the Provisional License, followed by the second stage of self-assessment and training.  In the third stage, teachers will take a TELSUAE exam to receive UAE competent teacher status license.

Dr Naji pointed out that the teacher licensing standards were developed in consultation with various government educational entities and based on international best practices.

In Dubai, the pilot phase is being rolled out in 15 private schools by KHDA and professional development, training and assessment will be conducted by the British University in Dubai (BUiD).

Prof. Abdullah Alshamsi, Vice-Chancellor of BUiD noted the importance of teacher licensing as he said, “I believe TELSUAE is a very significant step in standardizing the quality of teaching and learning in the UAE schools to enhance the overall standard of the education system in the UAE. BUiD is very happy to partner with KHDA on this initiative and contribute towards UAE Vision 2021.”

As part of the pilot phase of the project, principals from participating schools received information about the licensing requirements at a briefing session hosted earlier. Teachers applying for the license also received more information about the new teaching standards at an awareness session.

Omar Hatoum, Principal, Al Mawakeb School (Al Garhoud) said, “The TELSUAE project is an opportunity for teachers to gain a different perspective on education and professional growth as we move forward in the UAE towards achieving the competent teacher status.”

Jeff Smith, Director of Deira International School noted the importance of teacher licensing as he said, “Professional recognition of teachers is important and it will definitely improve the social status of teachers by adding to their professionalism. There is a lot to gain from this initiative.”

Ruth Burke, Principal, GEMS Wellington International School said, “We have seen great improvements in the quality and consistency of Dubai schools, which is reflected in the school inspection ratings. This focused approach on quality has benefited every student in the city. At a city wide level, the commitment to drive student outcomes will be key in achieving school based targets and national targets. Bringing a standardized approach to teaching will benefit all stakeholders and help us do the best for our students while achieving national agenda targets.”

Abigail Abraham, KG Teacher, Rajagiri International School, Dubai who participated in recent KHDA workshop held at the Emirates Aviation University, International Academic City, Dubai with the Theme: “What Works” commended the laudable efforts of UAE. She said it’s worthy to note that “KHDA and the Ministry of Happiness have so much passion for the best delivery in education. Their vision goes beyond just content delivery to the actual happiness and total well-being of the pupils and teachers, which impacts positively on learning, growth and development of the modern child.

Rajagiri International School was rated “GOOD” by KHDA in the recent visit and inspection of the Dubai School Inspection Board (DSIB) team.

Elisabeth Swartz, a Grade 5 teacher at Dubai American Academy said, “Being an effective teacher is much more than being an expert in subject matter. Student-centered teaching, establishing and maintaining professional relationships with students, promoting positive learning environments, understanding personal and professional ethics within the UAE are skills that prospective teachers will learn through this programme.”

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