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The Abu Dhabi Education Council on Wednesday warned all foreign teachers that they must hold a teaching licence issued in their home country before they can work here.

“We would like to ensure that any teacher who is recruited is highly competent,” said Dr Khalid Al Abri, director of personnel management.

“There is a committee that is working on the recruitment process to ensure ­competency.”

The push for a national teachers’ licensing system began in 2013, when Cabinet authorised a resolution establishing the Supreme National Steering Committee, led by the National Qualifications Authority.

It will apply to teachers, vice principals, principals and cluster managers working in public and private schools, the NQA said.

The NQA has previously said that a pilot phase of the programme, expected to last about six months, would involve about 750 teachers and would begin this academic year.

“An evaluation of the whole process will be conducted to adjust any shortcomings and narrow the gaps that can affect the final licensing process,” the authority said.

“After that, all teachers will commence the mandatory ­licensing. It is anticipated that the licensing system will be implemented in the first half of 2017.

“The new system will be implemented gradually over five years, such that all teachers will be licensed by 2021 in line with the requirements of the UAE National Agenda.”

Dr Al Abri said Adec recruited its foreign staff only from countries that licensed teachers. To be considered for a job in a public school, candidates must have a minimum grade point average of 2.5, he said.

Expatriates must have at least two years of teaching experience.

Non-native English speakers applying to teach English, science, mathematics or physical education need a minimum score of 6.5 on the international English language testing ­system.

Prospective Emirati teachers can be hired without prior experience but must meet all other criteria.

“They don’t require experience.” Dr Al Abri said.

“However, they need to be university graduates with teaching qualifications.”

Adec said it recruited 168 Emiratis, 95 Arabs and about 600 western teachers and staff for this academic year.

More than 15,000 teachers and other staff work in the emirate’s 251 public schools, with Emiratis making up about 52 per cent of teaching staff.

“We’re seeing a gradual improvement in the recruitment of Emiratis every year,” said Dr Al Abri.

The National