x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Ministry raises bar for teachers

Director-general says new staff will have to meet higher standards, while emphasis will be put on ongoing professional development

Children will benefit from more highly qualified teachers under Ministry of Education plans.
Children will benefit from more highly qualified teachers under Ministry of Education plans.

ABU DHABI // Every teacher applying for a job in a state school will be closely vetted by a new unit at the Ministry of Education as the Government pushes ahead with plans to hire better qualified staff. Under-qualified teachers have been one of the biggest obstacles facing the ministry in its efforts to reform the state school system.

The director-general of the ministry, Rashid al Nuaimi, said yesterday that higher standards would be put in place for new recruits. The ministry has not employed strict criteria for hiring in the past, and as a result some teachers working in the state system lack the necessary qualifications. Mr al Nuaimi said around 10 per cent of the applicants for new teaching positions would be approved under the regime.

The ministry was aware, he said, of the well-documented link between teacher quality and student achievement, and would "concentrate on professional development" to improve levels of expertise in the classroom. He told a press conference yesterday that the criteria for teacher certification had been approved, but the details were not spelt out. However, he made it clear that the performance of teachers in the classroom would be monitored before they received certificates.

Mr al Nuami said: "Our priority is the newcomers. We want to be sure that everybody new who comes into the system will be up to our standards." The ministry is developing five promotional grades for staff, ranging from teacher up to consultant teacher, although a timetable for the changes has not been announced. Mr al Nuaimi said they were working with the government department that deals with salary grades to draft a new pay scale.

The ministry has been concentrating on teacher qualifications for the past year. Two weeks ago, 60 supervisors graduated from a professional development programme aimed at enhancing teaching skills. These teachers will in turn retrain thousands of their peers in the northern Emirates through a programme, "Teachers for the 21st Century Professional Development Project", launched last autumn. It is a partnership between the ministry, Zayed University, the American not-for-profit organisation the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

As part of the programme, which aims to retrain 10,000 teachers, supervisors were trained in four areas: classroom environment, lesson planning and preparation, instructional practices, and professional responsibility. klewis@thenational.ae