Abu Dhabi: The UAE federal government has earmarked Dh7.4 billion for education in 2009 with salaries, infrastructure and strategic initiatives undertaken recently by the ministry accounting for the major share of the allocation, said Dr Hanif Hassan, Minister of Education.
A recently inaugurated project, Teachers of the 21st Century, which the ministry considers among the main thrust areas of its five-year strategic plan, will be eligible for a Dh40 million share of the budget.
Teachers of the 21st Century is a programme designed to train 10,000 public school teachers - from the Kindergarten level to Grade 12 - through certified courses, professional development forums and collaborative networks with the aim of developing a classroom professional practice certification.
"We are working on creating a team of dedicated educators with good work ethics and are committed to make a difference and eager to improve. That's why we have allocated Dh200 million within a 5-year time span only for the Teachers in the 21st Century programme," said Dr Hassan in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.
During his stint at the ministry since February 1, 2006, the ministry has downsized staff by 50 per cent and reduced centralised departments from 28 to 16. Administrators, teachers, principals and officials have all been relocated and given options to work in other places.
The Education Ministry has so far sent 100 UAE school principals to various countries in order to gain first-hand knowledge and experience about how an internationally accredited teaching method will be like.
"When I first took charge, there were six sections in the ministry but now there are just two - academic affairs, and finance and support services. I assigned a chief executive officer for each section after carefully checking their background and experience," said the minister.
Another initiative that is part of the ministry's strategic plan includes accrediting all public schools across the UAE and, as a first step in this direction, ten schools in the northern emirates will be involved in a pilot project in January 2009.
"We started off with a pilot study for ten of these schools and are following a comprehensive procedure that will help improve the infrastructure, sports facilities and the qualifications of teachers and principals in each of the schools," he said.
Islamic studies, Social studies and Arabic Language were among subjects that offered big scope for improvement in the selected schools, he said.
"Through the cabinet the ministry has instituted its own standards in these subjects and will brief the schools soon," he said.
The Abu Dhabi Education Council has also come up with a revised curriculum for subjects like mathematics, science and English for each of the ten schools during the new academic year, he said.
"It is the ministry's duty to provide public schools with as much assistance as possible and I will not be satisfied until I see our students entering both national and international universities without having to fall back on remedial programmes; education is the right investment and, as challenging as it is, the road to improvement is exciting."
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