In a bid to draw on the expertise of the educators currently employed by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), to help in solving the problems being faced by the education sector and to move Education forward, the council organised the “Shaping the Future Forum”, which was held on January 13th, 2015 at the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre.
The forum was organised to allow school staff to offer meaningful input to strategy development in ADEC, while encouraging participation and links between different schools and cycles. The openness of the forum and the fact that it involved both educators and administrative staff showed ADEC’s keenness to encourage transparency and new ideas; over 1,200 public school educators discussed various challenges and successes.
Her Excellency Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, Director General at the ADEC, in the presence of His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Secretary General of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, during her welcome speech, explained that such an initiative will help highlight areas of weaknesses that need to be resolved, shed light on successful areas, generate new ideas and solutions for improvement, as well as offering recommendations in the form of SMART goals and action steps.
“The primary goal for this initiative is to engage as many schools as possible to come up with ideas and solutions that can help guide ADEC’s strategic reform efforts in education. Our educators are in the field, day in, day out. They are the best people to offer feedback and suggestions on the education reform, and can definitely help promote strategy development and project plans in the education system,” said Her Excellency Dr. Al Qubaisi.
During the forum, educators brainstormed ideas related to 30 different topics, some of which include: STEM integration; Cycle 3 restructuring; Curriculum – Social Studies; Curriculum – Arabic and Islamic; Curriculum – Arts, Music, Sports (Extra-Curricular); Curriculum – English; children with disabilities, gifted and talented; child protection; student behavior policy; adult education, career advising; early childhood education and care and the list goes on.
Some of the ideas shared by the ADEC educators included; greater autonomy to be given to schools in hiring staff, choosing their own curriculum and support material. There was a call for pay increases not only for locals but also expatriates, in order to recruit and retain quality staff. Educators also proposed the reorganisation of the delivery of professional development and the adoption of a more inquiry based, teacher led model in which each school drew on the expertise of colleagues within the school to deliver professional development sessions. They also put forward the idea of creating more opportunities to share the good practice taking place in schools.
“Good communication leads different individuals to understand and learn from each other. That is why today is helpful, since it offers the opportunity to share not only our conclusions, but also the reasoning behind them. The aim is to implement a process to ensure meaningful input of participants, in a way that each person feels their voice is heard, valued, and actionable feedback and suggestions are offered,” concluded Dr. Al Qubaisi.