Preparations for the start of the 2010-11 academic year are on track for students' return to public schools on September 15 and for faculty and staff on September 12, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili confirmed.
The director general inspected two new kindergartens on Thursday that will open in Al Ain - Atlowaya kindergarten and Al Shuaiba kindergarten. Both schools were specifically designed to meet the requirements of the New School Model, a transformational approach to education that will be rolled out in KG-Grade 3 public schools this year.
He was accompanied on the tour by Mohamed Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of School Operations at Adec, and Salem Abdul-Aziz Alkitheri, Head of Al Ain Educational Zone.
On the tour, Al Khaili provided information on school preparations underway throughout the emirate. Adec had announced the integration of 20 government schools and the opening of 11 new school buildings in the emirate in the 2010-11 academic year.
The schools include two in Abu Dhabi, with one school in Shamkha District and one kindergarten in Khalifa City A; four kindergartens in Al Ain; and five new schools in Al Gharbia, two of which will open at the beginning of the second semester.
This school integration will result in a decrease in the number of public schools from 305 to 296, reflecting the effective utilization of resources.
The study for future school integration is in progress with the intention expediting the relocation of students from old facilities to new schools that provide a learning environment that supports the goals of the New School Model.
Adec has announced that it will build 15 new schools this year including 12 schools in Al Ain and three in Abu Dhabi. Each new school will have a capacity of 2,200 students, allowing it to take in students from two older schools.
School planning has taken into account population and demographic statistics in the different areas of the Emirate in order to provide the most efficient utilization of these new school buildings.
All of the schools will be equipped with the required IT infrastructure, provide learning environments with the latest resources supporting scientific research, problem solving, creative thinking, leadership, and teamwork.
Adec has recruited 1,252 new teachers for this academic year to fulfill the school resourcing requirements for qualified teachers in all disciplines. This number includes almost 1,000 licensed teachers who have been recruited from abroad, in addition to 270 teachers from within the UAE.
Currently, Adec is completing their appointment procedures and conducting orientation sessions to educate them on the country and its culture, customs, traditions and religion.
Maintenance of schools
All planned maintenance works are scheduled to be completed before the start of the new year, with 95 per cent of total maintenance work in schools already finished.
There will also be an assessment of vendors' performance to make sure they meet the conditions and specifications required, and that they met the criteria that were agreed upon with Musanada, the institute in charge of supervising the implementation of maintenance work.
A meeting with school principals will inform them how to communicate future maintenance needs to ensure school facilities stay properly maintained throughout the year.
Adec has received roughly 90 per cent of Ministry of Education textbooks and has begun to distribute them to schools. In addition, Adec has started receiving books that were ordered for the New School Model.
Transportation needs for this academic year were determined based on the required number of buses for the number of students in schools. Based on this assessment, Adec has agreed with Emirates Transport to provide 80 additional buses in order to meet the needs of new schools, bringing the total number of buses that provide transportation services for students 1,650.
New schools in Al Gharbia have started to receive new furniture as per their requirements, alongside the eight schools that have been completely renovated to mirror the requirements of the new school model.
These schools also are receiving the educational and laboratory equipment and resources needed for the start of the school year.
Cleaning and security
Adec has pursued a new system of cleanliness in schools through contracts with specialized companies to ensure a high standard of hygiene in schools throughout the year. In addition, schools will be provided with a sufficient number of security guards who will be equipped with centralized surveillance cameras to help monitor entrances and exits of all schools.