Abu Dhabi: Public school students are now required to explore, question, discuss, discover and problem-solve through a new programme introduced by the government that will prepare them to continue their higher education, senior officials have told Gulf News.

The 'Teachers in the 21st Century' programme is a joint partnership effort aimed at developing a classroom professional practice certification.

The agreement was first signed on September 9 at the Zayed University (ZU) campus in Abu Dhabi between Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Dr Hanif Hassan, Minister of Education.

ZU President Dr Sulaiman Al Jasem told Gulf News that students from public schools have been found to require strengthening courses before pursuing higher education.

"Around 25 per cent of our yearly budget is spent on preparing students to pursue their higher education in the UAE," sid Al Jasem.

"The Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Education and Zayed University are working very hard to deal with this dilemma and through our new programme we will hopefully achieve our aim and be able to go through this bridging process."

Teachers in the 21st Century is a result of a collaborative effort and an ongoing development project, which promotes new ways of working with students to create a stimulating classroom environment in public schools.

The ambitious project will initially target 10,000 academics from Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools in the northern emirates, effective as of October 12. Teachers will be required to go through certified training courses, professional development forums and collaborative networks.

Quality curriculum

"Together as partners with higher education we are working hard to make sure that teacher preparation programmes provide the knowledge, skills and practical experience that is necessary to build a 21st Century high-quality teaching force in the UAE," said Elizabeth Ross, Educational Consultant at the Ministry of Education.

Ross told Gulf News that the education minister is keen to promote a high quality curriculum, assessment of teaching and technology through new areas of course work and certification programmes in collaboration with UAE universities.

The initiative is expected to help train and build new expertise in public schools. Examples include early childhood, special education inclusion, differentiated instruction and learning technologies.

"We need alignment all the way through graduate school," said Ross. "Last November for instance, I requested that Zayed University work with us in developing a science-based degree for the teaching profession."