Innovation as part of improving educational performance standards in UAE
The Education Vision of the leaders of the UAE
In a 2013 education conference held in Abu Dhabi, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, Sheikh Nahyan said, “To talk about the youth in innovation and education is in reality talking about the future of the nation.” On October 19, 2014, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minster of the UAE, announced a National Innovation Strategy which is expected to transform UAE into one of the most innovative nations in the world. This strategy will focus on seven sectors, education being one of them.
UAE Strategies for Educational Innovation
As part of the educational initiative, there are many methods being used to enhance performance standards in UAE. The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) regulates the education sector, and their role is to oversee curricula and standards as well as school performance. In collaboration with Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the Ministry of Education, and the Abu Dhabi Vocational Education Training Institute, Adec has helped establish a new set of guidelines regarding innovation in education. The guidelines state that schools across the UAE are now required to have innovation included in performance standards. Self-evaluation, inclusion, and exemplars of good practice, will also be addressed in school assessments.
Adec has also taken steps to enhance the curriculum established by the UAE Ministry of Education to include learning approaches that are more interactive and stimulate innovation, creative thinking, and creativity. This curriculum is called the New School Model and will be implemented in the public schools of UAE by 2016. The model focuses on a student-centered learning approach, and takes into account the different learning styles of students. Edward Murtagh, the manager of inspection and monitoring at Adec, feels that one of the traits of high-performing schools in UAE is that they can teach curricula in a way that challenges pupils of all abilities.
Another strategy to promote innovation in UAE schools is to develop curricula that will require children to spend more effort in learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, known as the STEM subjects. Research and Development (R&D) plays a huge part in the UAE economy, with 7 billion currently invested in this area. Innovative strategies in education will create skilled and progressive leaders in R&D, resulting in a stronger, more improved economy.
The Educational System in UAE
Improving educational performance standards through innovation is a top priority in UAE. Part of the National Innovation Strategy is to put robots and innovation labs in schools. The belief is that these are tools that will help improve performance and develop creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking in students, which will eventually lead to innovative solutions to many challenges in the country.
These initiatives are not only a government effort, but the community as well. KHDA has created a mobile application that enables parents to track their child’s progress in school, and to be more involved. Adec encourages schools to offer a diverse selection of extracurricular activities for students to engage in. The UAE government calls 2015 a “Year of Innovation,” and innovative education is a vital part of that.