Interview: Hussain Al Hammadi

How is advanced technology being used in educational spaces to improve the learning environment for both staff and students?

HUSSAIN AL HAMMADI: The infusion of technologies in teaching and learning is one of the primary drivers behind a successful learning environment. It provides a range of opportunities for creating new approaches to learning and helps everyone in the system fulfil their ultimate goals. The creation of interactive gateways for teachers, team collaboration software tools and instant communication platforms between colleagues are just some examples of the many advanced technology applications that are being implemented. For students, it has never been easier to engage and motivate them, and such technologies make student-teacher communication so simple. Students now have the ability to use different resources, regardless of time and place. This is especially beneficial to students in rural areas who do not have easy access to conventional learning centres. For schools, these tools give students the chance to generate statistics that help them analyse and enhance teachers’ and students’ performance. Above all, they open new channels of communication and collaboration by allowing teachers to exchange expertise and best practices through innovative platforms, such as social media or gateways where they can access a host of resources at the click of a button.

In what ways will the adoption of the Higher Policy for Science, Technology and Innovation stimulate investment and support innovation ?

AL HAMMADI: This policy represents a turning point in the development path of the country’s education vision and will continue to have a positive impact on direct investment in various industries. The policy, as well as putting a focus on the science and technology sectors, further enforces the stimulation of innovation by adopting a clear strategy for all stakeholders. It aims to direct local and foreign investment towards these sectors, especially with the creation of an environment that actively embraces these investments.

The strategy not only focuses on public-private partnerships and knowledge and technology transfer, but also on innovation practices that help support the culture of science and innovation through attracting and inspiring talented individuals from different countries to work and invest in the UAE. Furthermore, it provides great support to industries by offering investment incentives, alongside a legal framework that aims to attract international companies to partner with local businesses. The policy’s implementation will include the establishment of research funds for science and innovation in the UAE and will reflect positively on higher education, since research is considered a principal element of educational development, especially in the field of tertiary education. This will have a positive impact on the international key performance indicators for education, as well as in the university rankings, and will lead to increased levels of research and partnerships between the education sector and relevant industries.

What steps are being taken to ensure teachers continue to develop their professional skills?

AL HAMMADI: Professional development is very important and ensures that teachers’ skills and abilities are kept up to date in a world that puts an emphasis on new concepts in science and knowledge every day. A number of measures have been adopted: teacher preparation programmes have been restructured in accordance with a higher set of professional standards alongside the introduction of a teacher’s licence as a requirement of educational proficiency. There has also been renewed focus on specialised training, specifically on academic components and teaching methods. Additionally, training hours for teachers have been increased to a minimum of 100 per year.