x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Oprah's teachers given international outlook in UAE

Four teachers from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls attended a three-day workshop in Dubai.

Susan Crossman, a teacher from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, attends the conference.
Susan Crossman, a teacher from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, attends the conference.

DUBAI // A group of teachers from Oprah Winfrey's South African school for girls are full of new ideas as they leave the emirate today.

A three-day education conference at Greenfield Community School introduced the teachers to the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum.

"We are learning and trying to compare what we are doing now and what we need to incorporate to become an IB World School," said Mampho Langa, the head of academics at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

Four of the academy's staff were among 170 teachers from schools around the world who participated in workshops on independence, leadership, multiculturalism and community service in schools.

Paul Wilton, the head of the life sciences department at the Winfrey academy, said the idea had been to collaborate with teachers in the UAE and share experiences on how to become an IB World School.

"We are hoping to be accredited as an IB World School soon and, when we do, we will be the first South African school with that system," he said.

The academy currently follows the General Education and Training and Future Education Training programme in Grade 7 to Grade 12.

Mr Wilton said the IB curriculum would help pupils become independent and give them career opportunities across the world.

Angela Hollington, the principal of Greenfield Community School, said the workshops taught "international-mindedness".

"Schools that want to gain IB status need to provide these professional development opportunities to their teachers," she said.

Ms Langa described changing the lives of pupils, many of whom were from disadvantaged backgrounds, as a "momentous task". But she said that despite the pupils' poverty, their desire to learn helped them overcome challenges.

"One of the girls had never read a novel in her life and when she came here and saw others reading big volumes, she thought she would never be able to do it. But then she just began imitating what the others did and now she not only knows how to read, but is our top pupil as well."

aahmed@thenational.ae