RAS AL KHAIMAH // An effort to improve English and creative thinking emerged at Al Queeba Girls School yesterday.
The RAK school, which teaches Grades 6 to 9, became the latest to adopt the Madaras Al Ghad (Mag) programme. Under the scheme, which has been gaining ground in government schools in Dubai and the Northern Emirates for five years, maths and science are taught in English.
Nazeema Raju, who runs the programme, said it was intended to "create a community of students that are proficient in English so that they can be internationally recognised".
It is a very different approach to teaching. "Mag allows students to be critical thinkers and think outside the box," she said. "When they are done, they will be able to really question things."
Courses are based on group work and interactive teaching, with an emphasis on the internet. Wi-Fi will be installed in all classrooms. That, said, Hessa Hassan Al Malik, an English teacher, would "really make a difference", as the school's only computer lab was busy most of the time.
Teachers will be encouraged to use the internet in lessons, "such as starting a lesson showing the class a YouTube clip".
Teachers will be given six three-hour training sessions to prepare them for this brave new world. And while it could be difficult to shake old teaching habits, the school was "lucky to have mostly young teachers", said Ms Raju. "They are very dynamic and they want to do new things every day. We want to see the teachers' personality come out when they are in the classrooms."
She said the old curriculum was "very textbook", and fostered a "lack of creativity and less freedom".
Mag allows teachers to use magazines, brochures and newspapers in lessons. "It's not only about teaching English, but it's also about building confidence - teaching them life skills."
The first day went smoothly.
"Today I expected chaos, but everything was so orderly," Ms Raju said.
A Grade 6 student, Maryam, said she was happy to be back at school. "The break has been so long," she said, adding that her favourite subject was English.
The changes might not be felt immediately, according to Sumaya Eassa Al Shekhi, an English teacher. "In the beginning it's the same as normal coursework, but things will change when we start teaching properly," she said.
The school principal, Aaesha Mohammed bin Tamim, said Mag was an excellent way to develop students' skills. "I am very happy they selected my school for the programme," she said.
Of the school's 350 students, 105 will be taught under Mag.