Category Archives: Hadi Khatib

Intel Insight

Investing more than $1 billion on education, Intel, the world’s leading manufacturer of microprocessors is developing 21st century learning and teaching skills in the hope of generating future technology leaders. The IT private sector which is on the receiving end of acquired know-how is now delivering educational solutions of its own.

Before any microprocessors were ever invented, the human brain was the sole Central Processing Unit, holding within it the world’s computing records. Arguably, it still does. But in our haste to develop ever faster chips to manage information, mankind may have neglected its own gray matter’s capacity to calculate and process, voluntarily delegating these functions to sophisticated, yet man-made hardware. Using ICT (Information and Communications Technology) as a tool, Intel – the world’s leading manufacturer of microprocessors – has reinstated the brain’s rightful place in the computing world as both a processor of information into pioneering ideas and the dream weaver of the world’s innovative solutions.

With a truly global outreach program, Intel has since inception set out on a mission to make a difference, spending more than $1 billion on an ambitious education agenda that integrates ICT in the classroom and works on the professional development of teachers and students. While philanthropy and social corporate responsibility are the main drivers behind many of Intel’s initiatives, the company has a vested interest in developing a technologically savvy society. “Intel is aiming towards a knowledge based economy by helping educators and governments develop 21st century skills for teaching and learning, enabling us to generate future technology leaders and hire out reliable engineers within our organization,” said Samir Al Shamma, General Manager of Intel in the Gulf Countries.

Having reached three million teachers worldwide and aiming for 10 million teachers by 2010, Intel’s biggest initiative is ‘Intel Teach to the Future’ which by this year’s end would have benefited some 300,000 teachers regionally. “Our research has shown that many of the schools had computer labs which were just collecting dust. We also discovered that the kids were not afraid of the technology but the teachers were not properly exposed to it,” Al Shamma said. Basic computing such as using PowerPoint, Word and Excel programs are offered by many technology providers such as Microsoft and certifying agencies such as the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) -a global initiative with the objective of certifying essential Information Technology (IT) skills and promoting lifelong e-learning. Intel’s focus is to actually build on this knowledge. “We go beyond the basics and show the educators how to teach children to be project-oriented using technology as a tool and gear it in their everyday lives,” Al Shamma said.

Khaled Adas, Intel’s Education manager in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries said that Intel is very unique at this level of professional development, where the integration of ICT comes in. “I don’t think there is a program in the market that comes close to what we do. It targets teachers who already have basic skills no matter where they learnt them from, and so we don’t teach technology per se, but rather how to plan, solve problems, think critically and collaborate,” Adas says. As part of acquiring 21st century skills, Intel is also applying a new educational strategy with students which consists of transferring project-based learning models using what the company calls “Thinking Tools”. These are resources for educators to support collaborative student- centered learning and are active learning places where students engage in robust discussions, pursue investigations, analyze complex information, and solve problems. “We help teachers play a facilitating learning activities and pose questions that take student thinking deeper,” Adas says. According to Al Shamma, if you are trying to bring students to be IT savvy while influencing teachers to become more project oriented, “the homework needs to be replaced by lots of projects. The same child’s horizons are expanded and he/she learns the same things we learned, without all the hassles of memorizing all that stuff,” Al Shamma says. But he warns that teachers have to change their ways of teaching. “Yes, I do believe that the teacher of the future will be very different from the teacher of bygone days. Instead of memorization, now they have to give us a challenge and let us go and find a solution to it.”

However, in reaching those goals, Intel still faces obstacles. According to Adas, the biggest of these are infrastructure and Internet connectivity, “hence part of our effort is to try to influence governments to integrate WiMAX (World Interoperability for Microwave Access).” WIMAX enables true broadband speeds over wireless networks through fixedapplications as in point-to-multipoint enabling broadband access to homes and businesses. WiMAX is also a key component of Intel’s broadband wireless strategy to deliver innovative mobile platforms for broadband Internet connectivity anytime, anywhere. “WiMAX is the Wi-Fi for a city block; you have an antenna and you can beam data up to 70 megabits and as far as 50 kilometers away, thus schools can have high broadband connectivity rather quickly especially those within 15-20 kilometers,” Al Shamma says. Intel visits several ministries of education in different regional countries to explain how effective WiMAX is and begins the process of helping these governments tackle key issues such as trying to leverage the investment in hardware and effectively use it.

Adas says the challenges boil down to:

1 Providing ICT access and connectivity to the students

2 Developing the right policies for the effective use of ICT

3 Developing goals and objectives of ICT use in education

4 Providing for professional development and evaluation


Professional development is providing teachers with the latest strategies in teaching. Intel has an entire team of PhD holders in many areas of specializations in education. “Intel is the largest micro processing manufacturer in the world and not an educational company, yet we use education to make a difference in society through technology,” Al Shamma says. Intel’s long-term strategy is to help an economy develop, which would indirectly help it and other IT companies in the field. Al Shamma claims though that visits to ministries are not aimed at having them buy more PCs. Adas says that e-learning is the highest level to achieve in educational strategy. “E-learning is one of the tools we think people need to have in their hands, but it’s not the goal of Intel. E-learning is a big trend and we hope that ministries would want to get there. It is in fact their goal.”

Intel® Learn Program is another initiative benefiting students. “We have a great curricula that can help students after hours and that’s through Intel Learn,” Adas says. Intel Computer Clubhouse Network offers after-school, technology-based teaching programs for youth. Incorporating the use of professional software and coupled with the support of a community of learners – including mentors and staff – an Intel Computer Clubhouse allows the creativity and expression of the students’ own ideas and interests to be channeled into computer-based projects. Students could go into computer clubs and learn about finding information quickly and efficiently through research. Students apply this newly-found information into new areas of problem solving, enabling them to think professionally and become decision makers. Intel Learn encourages students to collaborate and communicate results with each other allowing them to publish their results online. The Intel Teach Program and Intel Learn Program are part of Intel’s Digital Transformation Initiative which is a comprehensive, multi-year program that will expand Intel’s economic, educational and technology-related support throughout the Middle East.

In all their endeavors, Intel works with local partners showing them how technology can support education. One local success story is a company in Saudi Arabia called Semanoor, which has developed software that took the complete K-12 curriculum and digitized it. “Anybody can digitize books, but then Semanoor developed software that allows teachers to actually add notes to that digital information,” Al Shamma says. Using multimedia, teachers are able to enrich the educational content, and then post it on the website for themselves. Other teachers and students could then interpret that lesson and add to it animation, etc. “It is very clear from the point of view of broadening one’s educational horizon through technology, one needs to have broadband access in addition to educational content,” Al Shamma added. Intel is also Arabizing an award winning portal called which was originally customized for the Irish education system. A collaboration between Intel Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Irish Times, was launched in February 2002 by Ireland’s Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern and has so far attracted 44,000 individual users. The portal which focuses on the second level school curricula provides valuable resources to help students prepare for their exams and also enables them to explore the wider world of education with their PC. “ is creating courseware that compliments what kids learn in school and customizing it to other regions and aims to provide students, teachers and parents with highly innovative, interactive and exciting learning content and supporting materials,” Al Shamma says. Intel has also launched the new Arabic portal,, providing extensive information about Intel’s Education Excellence initiatives, success stories and news releases. “The website plays host to a forum where readers can get involved in Intel’s vast education initiatives and provides an interactive platform for teachers and students to exchange ideas on the latest education tools, curricula and teaching methods,” Intel education manager for Middle East Turkey and Africa Ferruh Gurtas says.

Intel was the first company to make programming intelligence into inanimate objects possible. By now giving brainpower processing back to humanity and allowing for integrated intelligence to be tested, decoded and shared, our learning potential is being unleashed with a little help from our technology friends.


Intel® Teach To The Future to bolster UAE Curriculum

 Intel® Corporation and the Abu Dhabi Education Zone (ADEZ) have signed in May 2006 a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on implementing ‘Intel® Teach To The Future’ across all Abu Dhabi schools. This professional development training program is seen as an important step to provide teachers with 21st century teaching and learning skills and to integrate appropriate information and communication technology, teacher training, relevant content, and connectivity in the UAE curriculum.

Intel takes education initiative to Lebanon

Intel® Corporation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Lebanese Ministry of Education and the Hariri Foundation in June 2006 to develop its worldwide Intel Teach to the Future program in Lebanon. The three-year program, part of the Intel® Education initiative, aims to train 10,000 in-service teachers to enable them to develop higher level thinking skills and enhanced learning in their students through the integration of technology into day-to-day lessons.

Intel to set up its first state-of-the-art technology lab in Saudi Arabia

 Intel Corporation announced in March 2006 it will open an innovative research facility in Saudi Arabia. As part of its Digital Transformation Initiative for the Middle East, the company will inaugurate the Intel Energy Competency Laboratory at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran in May this year.

Intel launches multi-year- “Intel Digital Transformation Initiative for the Middle East

 Intel announced in October 2005 the launch of the “Intel Digital Transformation Initiative for the Middle East,” a comprehensive, multi-year program that will expand Intel’s economic, educational and technology-related support throughout the region. Under this program, Intel will increase its investment in four key areas – local entrepreneurship, education, digital accessibility and specialized technical competencies – to help promote technology skills, knowledge transfer and jobs creation in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa.

Three million teachers help students learn to develop 21st century skills

 Intel announced in November 2005 a major milestone today in its worldwide effort to help students and teachers develop 21st century learning skills. Three million teachers have now completed training through Intel® Teach to the Future, a professional development program designed to help teachers effectively integrate technology with learning. Armed with strategies to develop digital literacy, creativity, higher-order thinking, communication and collaboration, these teachers are reaching tens of millions of students daily across the globe. Intel also announced expansion of the program into Nigeria through the New Partnership for African Development initiative, and to South Korea where the program will serve as the main component of the government’s professional development plans.

• Intel Teach to the Future in Jordan, Egypt and Turkey

This program trains teachers to integrate IT into their classroom teaching. It made its regional debut in 2003 (in Jordan and Turkey) and was launched in Egypt in 2004. Intel is currently in negotiations with the governments of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates to develop programs there.

• Intel Teach to the Future in Morocco

In March 2006, Intel and the Moroccan Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research and the National Telecommunication Regulatory Agency announced the launch of the Intel ® Teach to the Future program in Morocco, thus extending the program to the North African region.

• Intel Teach to the Future in Nigeria

Following the opening of its office in Lagos in April 2006, Intel is currently finalizing the details of the “Intel Teach to the Future” program in Nigeria. The opening of the office in Nigeria came as a testimony to Intel’s growing focus on West Africa. Other digital transformation initiatives in Nigeria include Intel’s work with the Ministry of Education in promoting the cause of integrating modern information and communication technologies into the country’s education strategies.

• Intel Learn in Egypt

Intel launched its Intel Learn program in Egypt in 2005. Intel Learn is an after-school, community-based program designed to teach technological literacy, problem solving and collaboration skills— essential skills for success in today’s knowledge economy. Created in collaboration with governments and non-governmental agencies, the program uses trained staff to guide learners 8 to 16-years-old through its engaging, structured curriculum. It is designed to meet the unique needs of emerging markets by delivering high quality, technology based education opportunities.

• WiMAX Connected School in Ghana

In April 2006, Intel announced the development and implementation of Africa’s first WiMAX connected school, to be located in Ghana, West Africa. The selected school for the pilot project, the Accra Girls Secondary School, will be set up as a full eLearning centre, with hardware, software, Internet connectivity and teacher training. WiMAX technology will be used to provide high-speed Internet access to the school.

Intel and Saudi MOE sign training agreement

Intel and the Saudi Ministry of Education said they will train more than 50,000 of the Kingdom’s teachers on the application of technology to improve classroom learning. Approximately 1.5 million students will benefit from the Intel® Teach Essentials program over the next 3 years.

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Filed under Educational Projects, Hadi Khatib, Issue 3

Do You Speak English ?

The message is clear. English is the right vehicle for education and the passport for entry into a competitive global economy. Teaching it is undergoing change. Embracing change is a tough challenge. Are you up to it?

 Albert Einstein once said: “Technological change is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.” So much has changed in the way learning occurs. Nowadays we can learn a new language over the Internet. Teachers could go inside a virtual world where they attend live seminars and conferences and network with their peers or other industry leaders. Children are increasingly using interactive whiteboards and tablets to communicate information with their peers and teachers. Even parents are learning about their children’s scholastic performance by accessing portals where information about grades, attendance, participation and various other indicators are systematically downloaded by teachers and administrators. But just as candles are not obsolete, it is unlikely that teachers will be sidelined. However, they will either need to harness the change or remain in the past, living a present that has no future.

The Abu Dhabi conference on “Managing Change in English Language Teaching (ELT)” held last January 27- 28 aimed at tackling, among other issues, how learning occurs, how teachers become better teachers, how students become better learners, and how to make change happen. Teachers and managers were learning together, under the same roof. These are times of change,” said Jeremy Harmer, an experienced methodology writer and the author of Practice of English Language Teaching. “How do we respond to change like that? Do we embrace it or do we stay in the comfort zone?”

The conference, a combined effort between Abu Dhabi University, The British Council and the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) certainly sent the message that change in English language teaching is underway and unless teachers, managers and governments embrace it, they risk being left behind. “We have to start training teachers. We can’t just assume that because we have teachers, they will necessarily have the practice and correct methodology to teach students,” says Sandra Zaher, director of the English Language Institute (ELI) at Abu Dhabi University. Since 1985, Zaher has seen the UAE’s meteoric rise as a country and nation and watched education grow and develop with it. “All education systems in the world go through peaks and valleys, but this country’s leaders have put tremendous emphasis on English language learning not just with teachers but also with the administration and where it counts most, with students who are the future leaders and decision makers,” Zaher said.

But Zaher also indicated that in 2015, the majority of the world will be speaking English. Also, most will not be native speakers; so again, there is a great demand for the UAE and the region to move forward. “There is an international need to speak English proficiently and in this country that’s what it’s going to take or we will fall behind and that’s not what ADU or the government wants,” Zaher said. The conference brought together over 40 speakers who addressed how to reconstruct education, how to reconstruct English and how to make a country and its people more marketable. Zaher said that fitting in the global community isn’t just about learning English, but rather about learning, in general. “We need the same strategies across the board in Arabic, math, science and other areas,” Zaher said.

Salam Affouneh, the Curriculum Coordinator at ADU’s ELI and IATEFL’s ELT Special Interest Group (SIG) was the person behind the idea of the conference. Seeing that IATEFL had no representation in this region despite the organization’s 99 affiliates and 3500 members worldwide, Affouneh was able to convince the conference organizers of the need to hold such an event at a time when the UAE was spending close to 30% of its budget on education. “At this point we need to prepare people for the change taking place with the creation of Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) and Abu Dhabi Education Zone (ADEZ), public private partnerships (PPP) and resulting restructuring of curricula and teaching methods,” Affouneh said. For those students and teachers not accustomed to modern ways, the change has, as expected, been difficult to manage. “At ADU, we get students who learned the traditional way. These students are used to memorization. Our teachers are now implementing student-centered techniques, introducing collaborative learning, problem-solving and critical thinking as a learning platform, but it’s a tough process for both teachers and students,” Affouneh remarked.

IATEFL ELT Management SIG Coordinator George Pickering said the event came about because the association’s mission is to link, develop and support teachers throughout the world. In collaboration with the British Council, IATEFL helps promote and develop English Language teachers through teacher associations. “What we found pleasing about this conference is that it does actually build a bridge between managers and teachers; a rarity since you often find that they each follow a different path towards their professional development,” Pickering said. He added that teachers have to embrace technology and have to want and be able to make changes in the way they teach, such as to make teaching as student-centered as possible. “We are all aware today that education is results-driven. We need to demonstrate that the method used by teachers is an effective one,” Pickering said. Teachers can develop professionally by attending seminars and conferences, observing their peers in the classroom and producing reflective journals and portfolios of the work they have done. The process is best monitored when schools and institutions have professional development review sessions.

Three things are for sure. One is that traditional ways of teaching and learning are increasingly questioned and beginning to look very ineffective in today’s hi-tech environment. Second, people are taking more interest in learning English. “I notice tremendous changes communicating with people on the street,” said Peter Williams, BC’s Branch Manager at Abu Dhabi’s training center. He explained that people’s needs are changing from wanting to attend a traditional English class to being increasingly interested in professional writing, advancing their careers or supporting their academic careers. IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, measures one’s ability to communicate in English across all four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking. The test is for people who intend to study or work where English is the language of communication. “IELTS is becoming huge. People are measuring their English Language skills against international standards and doing well,” Williams asserted. Lastly, the UK will continue backing English learning initiatives as the country has a vested interest in attracting foreign students to its campuses. “The UK government is interested in foreign students studying in the country’s tertiary system of education. That’s why you see the universities there becoming more internationalist in their curriculum and more international,” Pickering said.

The British Council has also initiated a program to link UAE schools with UK schools in a joint curriculum program, particularly ELT. Ultimately, the project will link 600 schools in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Iraq, Yemen and the UK representing a student community of 400,000 pupils. “There is a lot of expertise in the GCC countries and very similar problems, so pooling expertise makes a lot of sense; this is a sign of how serious this region is on straddling the global stage in terms of education,” Williams said.

IATEFL & the British Council-Partners in EL Learning

The International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) was founded in 1967 with a mission to link, develop and support English Language Teaching professionals throughout the world. They do this through:

• a range of regular publications including their own Voices magazine

• holding an Annual International Conference with an extensive program of talks and workshops attracting over 1,400 delegates;

• offering members the chance to join any number of 14 Special Interest Groups (SIGs);

• linking with associated organizations in other countries;

• providing help to others in forming a local teachers’ organization.

Founded in 1934, the British Council is the UK’s public diplomacy and cultural organization, working in 109 countries, in arts, education, governance, and science. Fiscal year 2005—06 achievements:

• Worked in 233 towns and cities in 109 countries;

• Employed over 2000 teachers who taught 1.1 million class hours of English to 325,000 learners in 53 countries;

• Delivered 1.3 million UK exams to 925,000 candidates worldwide;

• Supported a production of Love’s Labours Lost; the first performance of a Shakespeare play in Afghanistan for over 17 years;

• Awarded Communications and Humanity 2005 prize by the prestigious Principe de Asturias Foundation, in acknowledgement of their int’l work in communications and humanitarianism.

IATEFL & the British Council-Partners in EL learning


ADU-A legacy in the making

ADU is a forward-thinking private university that created an opportunity for English language learning to grow with the demands of the UAE. The conference which was spearheaded by ADU received the support of the university board and the go-ahead despite the sizable cost estimated at AED 450,000. “Everyone needs learning so we thought why not bring the first international conference to Abu Dhabi and we did thanks to a wonderful university leadership that looked at this and said: yes this is where we want to go!” Sandra Zaher, director of the English Language Institute (ELI) at Abu Dhabi University said. The event was originally planned to be held at ADU’s newest campus. “We have a large contract with the government for teaching English Proficiency to 1500 Department of Civil Service students and in February we host a job seekers program attracting 2000 students from the UAE, so we had to move the venue to a hotel,” said Zaher. More than 26 new English Language classrooms will be built to accommodate these studies. “By May 2007, ADU will be the largest English Language institute in the UAE; we will have 95 English Language TESOL instructors working for us,” Zaher said. When all 4 phases of the new AED 500 million campus is complete, ADU will have a capacity of 10,000 students. “One hundred years from now, people will say they remember their grandmother or grandfather as being the first graduates here and it all comes back to globalization, Emiratization and PPP initiatives,” Zaher said.


Filed under Abu Dhabi, British Council, Conferences, ELT, Hadi Khatib, Issue 3

PPP in Abu Dhabi

In September 2006, the PPP pilot project was officially launched in 30 K-5 Schools of which 12 are located in Al Ain, 12 in Abu Dhabi and 6 in Al Gharbiya. “How do we fulfill our objectives? Is it by privatizing schools? Do we create independent schools or do we partner with private international education companies? The decision was to partner with private operators who had proven their competency in other countries,” Mubarak Al-Shamesi, Director General of ADEC said. Of the many that had applied, four operators were chosen: CfBT, Intered/Sabis, Mosaica and Nord Anglia. ADEC’s media office informed the Middle East Educator that two different operators will operate 30 new schools for grades 6 to 9 for a period of 3 years beginning September 2007. These school locations and their distribution among the new providers are yet to be determined. “We are trying to give operators the chance to start before the end of the current year, so as to familiarize themselves with the environment, principals and students, while leaving the summer for preparation in terms of staff, equipment, etcetera,” Al Shamesi said.

All operators are required to abide by curriculum standards designed by Tafe Global, the New South Wales Department of Education and Training, which put together a curriculum based on international best practices. For the first time, the standards were not just made for subject matters like Math, Science, English, and Social Studies, but also for Music, Sports, PE, Health and Safety. The bidders also had to answer detailed questions about organizational capacity, increasing student achievement, increasing parent and community involvement in public education, strengthening the quality and quantity of Abu Dhabi national instructors and administrators, and preserving and promoting heritage and culture. As for the actual curriculum to be taught in those schools, Dr. Hanif Hassan, Minister of education for the UAE said: “The students will learn English, Science and Math — all in the English language. Students will also be taught Arabic, Islamic Studies and National Studies, according to the ministry’s curricula using new methods for teaching and learning.”

According to Al Shamesi, education providers may use their own curriculum, textbooks and professional development (PD) techniques with teachers. “Provider “X” might decide to use 6 books, but he realizes that one of his schools is weaker than another, so he may add extra staffing, use different educational resources or choose to concentrate on PD. ADEC does not interfere here,” Al Shamesi said. ADEC assists by helping the operator understand the system better and make the necessary adjustments. “We do check the books to see if they are suitable for students in terms of culture or religion. But today, learning is not dependent on books, so we need resources and a staff professionally developed to deliver in English,” Al Shamesi said. However, what role does ADEC play in the PPP project implementation and who is in control of it? “In order for the council to make sure that the operator meets its requirements, we had to take several steps beginning with the development of the curriculum standards which all operators have to abide by,” Al Shamesi said. ADEC then hired a monitoring agency, Penta International, to evaluate partnership schools in the emirate.

Penta International undertakes the evaluation of the needs of the partnership schools as well as tests the academic performance of the students in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the western region. “Rather than the operator coming to me and saying this school is not functioning, or this principal is not meeting our expectations, I have a monitoring agency that will give me a second opinion,” Al Shamesi said. Penta, which conducts both scheduled and unscheduled visits, also assists the staff for both operators and schools. “We don’t want to wait until the end of the contract or the end of the year to measure progress. We find out where the gaps are early on and we fix them,” Al Shamesi said. On the strength of their international education record, Nord Anglia, a UKbased education provider, won a contract to operate six primary schools in the emirate for three years with a contract estimated at $5.7 million per annum. The company already offers advice and management services to schools, colleges and governments in a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. It actually generates more income outside the UK, such as in Eastern Europe, the Far East and now in the Gulf. “Around $134 million of our $230 million in turnover will come from overseas operations,” said David Singleton, Principal Education Advisor with Nord Anglia. The company, for example, is now developing a curriculum for Chinese children based on an English curriculum but very much within the values and beliefs of the Chinese. “They are very sensitive to cultural issues. There is strong commonality in China, Korea, Scandinavia and the UK, with emphasis on learning through play, role play and engaging the children,” said Ann Yeonus, Education Advisor for Nord Anglia. She added that wherever Nord Anglia operates, the idea is always to create continuity after their contract ends. “Like the old saying ‘Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime’,” Yeonus said.

For Abu Dhabi’s PPP project, Singleton said that the Australian curriculum standards offered primary school students a modern practice with two strong elements: a core curriculum taught entirely in English and the removal of textbooks where teachers dominate the learning environment. Like the International Baccalaureate program, the curriculum is engaging and takes advantage of the fact that children learn first through play by exploring their environment. “It was obvious from the start that our biggest role was actually training and educating the teachers, especially when a significant aspect of the project is to have a high proportion of national teachers,” Singleton said.

Nord Anglia has 30 advisory teachers who model best practices and 24 teacher assistants who support national teachers and advise them in the classroom. “The two keywords in this project are Sustainability, i.e. to develop a functioning model when we leave and the second is Capacity Building, where performance management plays a role in succession and promotion,” Singleton added. Nord Anglia’s project director Helen Kavanagh said teachers of Arabic are now requesting to share in the pedagogies of training and teaching for English teachers. “English is the first big mountain, then a new curriculum and new pedagogies. We have textbooks, but not for page by page and day by day usage and we now have assessment reporting instead of tests,” Kavanagh said. With principals being mostly Emirati women, Nord Anglia has also created a support group around them, gaining their trust and confidence and easing any fears they might have. “This is their school; we are here to help and not take it away from them.”

The challenge was also to gain the confidence of all stakeholders i.e. the government, teachers, students, parents and the community as a whole. “Parents really care about their kids’ education and it shows in their 80 percent attendance during school meetings,” Kavanagh said. The new project is activity-based with the assessment matched to the child’s level, as compared to everyday homework using textbooks. “That’s the big shift. A lot of the PPP project work is about matching the level of difficulty in the classroom. Before you added to 10 and then 20 and took homework to solve math problems. Now, depending on their level, kids might be sent home with varying hands-on tasks,” Yeonus said. She gave the example of a teacher who was teaching students to jump on numbers 4, 6 or 9 spread on the ground. “Here’s a great example of a visual, physical and oral application of a new teaching method which works miracles compared to traditional learning,” Yeonus said. In this system, catering to individual needs and levels helps retain slow learners in the same class as high achievers, where as before weak students were kept back a year. Building on its experience as the contractor for the British government to carry out school and quality inspections, and with Singleton being an ex-deputy director of Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education), Nord Anglia has also developed an inspection framework for Abu Dhabi that starts with an evaluation project for Adult Education Centers (literacy and acquisition of English). These are centers for students who left school early and did not complete their education. “When ADEC rolls out all 300 schools, it will be very demanding to keep this high quality education,” Yeonus said.

The Emirate will need to have an inspection body to check if every student is doing well enough and if the teaching supports the curriculum or whether teachers have the proper mechanics. “We hope to devise a model similar to the UK, which is based on schools’ self- evaluation, enabling them to know and manage themselves.” CfBT (Centre for British Teachers for Education ), which won a contract to take over the management of eight schools and four kindergartens in four clusters located in Abu Dhabi, Shahama, Al Ain and Madinat Zayed, began teacher training workshops for about 400 teachers, principals and senior management as a first step towards facilitating school improvement last June. “Quite a number of teachers could speak English to some extent. Children don’t need the confidence to try but teachers do as they have some sensitivity towards making mistakes,” said Jan Reid, director of the PPP program. Teachers with CfBT undergo 2 to 3 professional development sessions per week, attending training workshops on teaching methodology, behaviors, strategies and curriculum development. “The teachers in the schools are working so hard, they are the ones who are making the change,” Reid said. CfBT is also inviting principals to a big conference in the UK in June. “Although not part of the contract, it is an opportunity for the principals to go visit some UK schools and head teachers, share ideas, look at certain areas of teaching practice and hopefully enjoy themselves,” Reid added. Within their Learning Resource Center, CfBT is training teachers on how to use interactive whiteboards and introducing English resources and English reading books. “One of the problems in introducing English books is that you have to get the right level and density. If English is your second language and you opened a math book with far too many instructions in English, you wouldn’t know where to start,” Reid said.

Introducing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is part of the project requirements. Interestingly enough, some schools under CfBT had more than a dozen interactive whiteboards which were being used cosmetically. “We are installing networks, ICT equipment and lots of other technology which we’re training the staff on, including the principals,” Reid said. CfBT’s 12 schools are currently connected via Intranet, enabling teachers to share lessons and best practices, while students are wirelessly connected to the internet but access is controlled to prevent misuse. Andrew Herriot, the regional director of CfBT said that the organization had done a PPP project with Qatar and is already seeking similar opportunities with other governments. “Qatar was our first project with PPP in 2002. Under the auspices of Sheikha Mozah, we helped the Supreme Education Council develop the new curriculum standards for teachers of math and sciences from KG to grade 12,” Herriot said. As a result of that, CfBT was invited to train a cadre of teachers with a Postgraduate Degree in Education- a British teacher qualification. “In the first year we worked with the University of Southampton to develop a course for about 17 teachers who, after graduation, would be able to teach in the so-called independent schools using the curriculum we devised,” Herriot said.

CfBT also helped develop programs that all providers involved in running independent schools would be able to use. The center also headed training sessions held for senior leaders, principals, middle managers, heads of departments, subject leaders and others. “On the strength of our expertise, we bid for all 30 schools in the UAE PPP when we arrived in 2006. This, for us, demonstrates commitment,” said Herriot. So what is the role of the UAE’s ministry of education in all this? An essential one it seems, as both H.E. Dr. Hanif Hassan, Minister of Education and Mohammed Salem Dhahiri, head of the Abu Dhabi Education Zone are board members of ADEC. “There is also close cooperation between ADEC’s employees and MoE employees, to discuss PPP evaluation, share studies that are conducted by ADEC or the ministry, and exchange expertise,” Al-Shamesi said.

That leaves the question of when the rollout phase of the 300 schools will begin. “I cannot say that I can proceed with the rollout until we look at each project in ADEC and study it before we proceed. I am satisfied with the progress being made with the partnership, but will I be 100% convinced once the school year is over? This is hard to say,” Al-Shamesi said. As for grades 10-12, Al-Shamesi indicated that ADEC is planning to launch the program in 2008. “Some people might say that since we started with these operators then we need to give them the next contract, but I say no. We will say that any operator in the PPP will continue using the standards until his contract ends in three years,” Al-Shamesi indicated. Are three years enough? “I don’t know,” said Reid, “ All operators are working to have a sustainable model, but I would hate to think that teachers who are now working very hard may find that at the end of three years they are unable to sustain their efforts.”

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Hadi Khatib, Issue 4, Public Private Partnership, School Operators, School Reform