Interview: Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili
How can the government ensure that private schooling remains affordable for students while making the sector profitable and investor friendly?
MUGHEER KHAMIS AL KHAILI: Private School Quality Assurance is focused on major strategy plans such as offering quality education while developing an affordable private system for students across Abu Dhabi. As more new schools are being introduced to the market, supply is likely to cover the growing demand and result in lower tuition fees proposed by schools.
The expected increase in supply will drive competition among school operators toward providing quality education at lower prices. This would be achieved by operating in a more efficient manner and introducing new methods of education to the sector. Operators would be approaching high profit margins by controlling and reducing expenses in a way that eliminates waste and redundant expenses that consume profit.
At this stage, ADEC’s control of tuition fees would be reduced to minimum levels. Once supply meets demand, ADEC will no longer be in control of school tuition fees; the high fees charged by some schools would be justified by the quality of education and the learning environment they are offering compared to the other schools, while at the same time leaving other options open in the market for parents that are not willing to pay the high fees. This would result in a better quality of education, more affordable options available in the market, and additional schools.
How is the new school model (NSM) progressing, and how are you addressing the challenges associated with international quality standards?
AL KHAILI: The NSM has been rolled out for Grade 6 in all Cycle 2 public schools across the emirate starting in the 2013/14 academic year, with classes following a student-centred educational approach as in Cycle 1. ADEC is rolling out the model carefully to ensure it benefits all students across public schools. The model will be introduced to the rest of Cycle 2 in phases.
Following international quality standards and the most up-to-date educational research, the NSM has been developed for the context of Abu Dhabi. The experiences of some of the world’s best educational systems have been utilised and localised to meet Abu Dhabi’s specific needs and priorities.
Preserving the UAE’s culture, identity and language has been a central element in developing the model.
Arabic and Islamic studies are equally as important as English, mathematics and science.
In the NSM, students are at the centre of an active teaching and learning environment that will support them in developing strong literacy, numeracy, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, collaboration and communication, while ensuring an emphasis on cultural and national identity.
To what extent is the adoption of new technologies a priority for Abu Dhabi’s education system, and how will this benefit students?
AL KHAILI: The NSM has been designed for educational technology to be integrated into all subject areas students study. Further, teachers who previously taught information and communications technology (ICT) have become eLearning facilitators in Grade 6 in Cycle 2 starting this academic year, 2013/14.
The eLearning facilitators will make sure that all teachers utilise ICT in their subject areas, as well as support students and teachers in developing their ICT skills.
Moreover, the facilitators will also support efforts to leverage educational technology in developing key skills, in particular, problem solving and critical thinking, and group-oriented approaches to learning in different subject areas. These are essential skills the adults of tomorrow should have in the knowledge-based society that Economic Vision 2030 emphasises.
In addition, ADEC is currently exploring the possibility of implementation of further strategies to support eLearning across all schools and cycles. This is expected to be put in place over the next few academic years.
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