Schools in Abu Dhabi are offering poor education quality and Adec is keen to bring in new world-class private schools to meet growing demand in schools which are strained due to overcapacity.
“Private school capacity is currently stretched and Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) estimates demand for 10,000 additional school places year-on-year, making additional capacity provision an important priority. Various assessment indicators have revealed poor education quality and below average student achievement, which is largely a result of inadequate financial and human capital resources. This lack of appropriate resourcing is made worse by poor school governance and a shortage of qualified teachers,” Adec said in a statement on Monday following a review of 181 private schools in the UAE capital.
The Council has launched a strategy to attract more world-class private educational institutions in the emirate in order to meet impending demand.
Director General of Adec Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili said: “With the private education sector accounting for 31 per cent of Emirati student enrollment and 78 per cent of expatriate student enrollment, the development of a solid private education infrastructure in the emirate is an essential foundation required for achieving Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030. High quality private schools are required to attract the right talent and to prepare students to meet the workforce demands of Abu Dhabi’s future diversified knowledge economy.”
In order to achieve objective of housing world-class schools, Adec has decided to provide funding for new schools.
“Adec will also be supporting the development of increased capacity for affordable private schools through investigating and applying various resourcing models and funding mechanisms, including not-for-profit models. In existing schools the affordability issues will be tackled through advisory support, and potential assistance with transportation costs. Existing efforts to create additional school capacity through land allocation, the use of former government schools, and active marketing efforts to potential school operators will also be amplified to rapidly increase the number of new school places in the market,” its statement said.
In order to implement this strategy, Adec is looking inwards and will be building its own institutional capabilities through considerable expansion of the private education department. Recruitment efforts of experienced and specialised personnel have already begun in five divisions: policy, planning and performance management; business development; licensing and accreditation; inspection and monitoring; and school improvement. The development of a complete and accurate fact database of all schools will also be considered a priority in order to ease communication and administrative processes.
The private school strategy focuses in on three core elements: increasing access to private schools through ensuring an adequate capacity in the market; improving quality by focusing on student performance and teaching and leadership quality; and affordability through making affordable quality options available for all students.
This will be achieved through three main tactics: establishing a regulatory framework in order to provide a clear and stable operating environment; supporting quality, expansion and affordability through empowering schools; and building Adec’s institutional capabilities to enable effective regulation and support.
Adec said the new strategy will ensure that private school students are equipped with the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes necessary to embark on further education, to enter the workforce, and to be lifelong learners who are prepared to contribute to and be competitive in the global society, while preserving national identity, local culture and traditions.
The provision of a regulatory framework is integral to maintaining quality assurance through regular and defined licensing, accreditation, inspection, monitoring, and complaint investigation processes. As part of this framework Adec will maintain transparency through releasing regular public reports. Publication of a private school regulation policy in the first quarter of 2011 will provide schools with clear guidance on all aspects of educational delivery, including curriculum, teaching and learning, environment, and school governance. Other methods that will be used to boost quality levels will include restructuring, consulting and learning programs.
Yousif Al Sheryani, Executive Director of Private Schools and Quality Assurance, said: “Adec has already taken a number of positive steps in the private sector, including the allowance of high value land for school allocation and the beginning of licensing and inspection frameworks; with this strategy we are making a commitment to the community to drive rapid and effective initiatives to achieve our long-term vision for the sector.”
“This strategy lays out a comprehensive roadmap with implementation milestones that will provide clarity and direction to all stakeholders in private P-12 education. In the first half of 2011 we expect the launch of the policy handbook, finalization of the licensing process, training programs, and IT plans to take priority.”
“A critical component to achieving our private sector goals is engaging decision-makers and active participants in private schools, so we are trying to involve our stakeholders in the strategy development process wherever possible,” he added.
Some Private school principals were invited to an Adec executive briefing meeting, and were requested to input on the strategy.
Bob Malone, Principal of Al Yasmina School, said: “It’s a step in the right direction; there’s purpose and a direction with a sense of where they want to be. It’s refreshing that stakeholders other than those within Adec are being both consulted and made aware of significant developments that will shape all of our futures.”
Dr Shereen Gobran, Principal of Liwa International School, said: “The strategy is defined and organised, roles are becoming clear, and it emphasizes one of the most important things in education - professional development.”
Al Sheryani noted that: “Adec’s aim is to provide the tools, resources and infrastructure for a strong private education sector, but this strategy is really about empowerment of our stakeholders; over time we expect schools to be the leaders in driving a continuous process of self-improvement.”