Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) has formally opened Al Karamah Training Institute (Akti), a tailored education centre providing the emirate’s students of determination access to vocational training in eight main areas of specialisation.
Akti was officially opened during a tour by Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, chairman of the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi (DCD); Sara Musallam, chairman of Adek; and Ali Rashid Al Ketbi, chairman of the Department of Government Support — Abu Dhabi (DGS).
The institute is designed to empower students of determination — particularly those with autism — with future pathways for independent living and employment opportunities. The opening coincides with April’s World Autism Month.
After welcoming its first cohort of autistic students in November 2020, Akti, which works with students aged 15-years-old and above, is engaging in a series of vocational workshops designed to foster hands-on practical learning experiences in key industries linked to the UAE’s future human capital needs.
Areas of specialisation
To ensure that students gain the necessary experience that will equip them with future-ready skills, Akti is providing a number of workshops in eight key areas: Electronics and Robotics, Hydroponics and Aeroponics, Culinary and Hospitality, Creative Arts, Business Administration, Print and Design, Gaming and E-sports and Video Production and Editing.
Akti has also partnered with major industry leaders to create a cache of specialist certified vocational courses. With students able to gain recognised qualifications from UK award bodies, including Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN) and the National Open College Network (NOCN), the UAE-wide inclusion initiatives have already seen some of the national companies, such as Mubadala companies Strata Manufacturing and Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre, enlist as industry partners and commit to recruit and train the students to join their workforces.
Dr Al Khaili said: “We applaud the launch of [Akti] and its efforts to support people of determination. This is the result of our wise leadership’s efforts to make Abu Dhabi an inclusive and empowering community for all and this inspiring new facility will contribute to the role of people of determination in our society. By enhancing educational infrastructure and boosting creative skills, people of determination can serve as motivators and catalysts for social transformation and foster a truly inclusive community.”
Musallam said: “We are dedicated to enabling high-quality education and future career pathway opportunities for the UAE’s students of determination, and are committed to empowering students to live independent lives. The opening of [AKTI] underpins this commitment and is in-line with Abu Dhabi’s comprehensive People of Determination strategy. A progressive stride forward that extends options for families across the emirate, the new institute will provide critical vocational opportunities for students, which will provide them with the knowledge and skills to play an important role in our inclusive society.”
The brand-new, purpose-built campus in the grounds of Al Karamah School Abu Dhabi consists of specialist facilities including innovation rooms, a gaming room, a video production and editing studio, an industrial kitchen, creative studios and a sensory garden. The school and training institute are operated by the UK’s Priory Education and Children’s Services, an independent education provider for students of determination and part of the Priory Group.
Trevor Torrington, CEO of Priory Group, said: “Helping fulfil the dreams and aspirations of hundreds of students of determination is at the heart of what we do in the UAE. We are proud and honoured to be able to extend The Priory Group’s outstanding working relationship with Adek, following the opening of Al Karamah School last year. The extension of our education services, through this new purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility, draws on Priory’s expertise and experience, established over decades as a specialist education and behavioural care provider in the UK.”
Families of students of determination who have already progressed from Al Karamah School to Akti have responded favourably to the increased options for their relatives. M.L., the mother of a student, Eissa Al Dhahri, said: “My son was not happy in his mainstream school, but since he shifted to Al Karamah, he has made great progress. We were thrilled when he was offered a job after attending the Training Institute, we are so grateful to the school and really appreciate the efforts and levels of support for our children.”
Amna Al Akbari, the sister of Ahmed Al Akbari, another student at Al Karamah Institute, added: “Since joining the Institute, we have noticed great changes in my brother’s personality, he loves the Institute and enjoys spending time with us.”
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Khalifa Al Menhali, a 20-year-old student, said: “I have taken part in Electrical, Hydroponics, Arts, and Creativity workshops at Al Karamah Institute; I have learnt a lot and I now have a range of practical knowledge and skills - from how to design and build an electrical convertor, to the methods and techniques required for planting a variety of vegetables. In addition, the Institute has taught me important life skills which I use every day. I believe I can do anything and be anything I aspire to be; I would love to be an architect.”
Hamad Al Kaabi, a 19-year student, said: “I’m grateful to Al Karamah Training Institute as I’ve gained invaluable skills, knowledge and experience. This has enabled me to successfully secure employment at Mubadala Healthcare.