This first appeared in the April 2012 EL Gazette
CHANGES TO the school curriculum in the emirate of Abu Dhabi (part of the United Arab Emirates) requiring English-proficient teachers mean UAE universities are turning out teaching graduates with the ‘wrong’ skills who cannot be deployed in the emirate’s schools.
Abu Dhabi adopted its New School Model in 2010, for the first time requiring primary school teachers to teach several subjects and be proficient in English. But the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) director general, Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, told news website Middle East Online that teacher training departments of the UAE’s federal universities were still turning out teachers specialising in either English, maths or science and only capable of teaching one subject. And recent teacher training graduates hadn’t been familarised with the new curriculum or current methodology either.
Adec hired 314 Emirati nationals for educational jobs in the twelve months up to February, but some of these were administrative positions. The shortage of English-proficient teachers with the right skill set has impeded Adec’s drive to put proportionally more Emirati nationals into state education, forcing it to recruit 1,000 teachers from Australia, the UK and the US, while the proportion of Emirati nationals teaching in Adec schools rose only 3 per cent to 46 per cent of teachers.
None of Zayed University’s 110 teachers graduating since 2010 has found a job in Adec schools. United Arab Emirates University has begun tailoring classes to produce graduates equipped to teach to the new curriculum.