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 The Abu Dhabi Private schools closing meeting of the academic year 2012-2013

Principals and owners across the 185 private schools in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi have been invited to attend the “Abu Dhabi Private Schools Closing Meeting” for the academic year 2012-2013, which helped highlighted areas such as schools inspection reports, national identity, new regulation implementation, and electronic student’s information systems (E-SIS).
During his opening remarks, Engineer Hamad Al Dhaheri, Executive Director for Abu Dhabi Education Council’s (ADEC’s) Private School and Quality Assurance (PSQA) sector, spoke about the importance of encouraging a communication dialogue with all private schools across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in order to encourage transparency, quality education and involvement.
“PSQA is eager to strengthen its communication channels with private schools in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. We encourage a transparent relationship with schools as part of ADEC and PSQA’s aim to enhance the level of education, keep everyone involved in any new regulations we introduce and to help create a healthy, cooperative and fruitful atmosphere for the sake of all stakeholders involved (teachers, parents, students, school owners),” said Engineer Al Dhaheri.
Some of the communication channels that PSQA encourages among school principals and school owners, explained Engineer Al Dhaheri, include one to one meetings, campaigns and events, annual market publication and executive director direct e-mail access.
“Schools are updated and kept involved in any events and/or campaigns organized by PSQA, since they are our major stakeholders.  Also school principals and owners are more than welcome to schedule a meeting with the respective section in PSQA and discuss matters in a one to one meeting, we are more than happy to assist and advise schools, and if the matter is of urgent nature, you can contact me directly via email,” indicated Engineer Al Dhaheri.
Following Engineer Al Dhaheri’s speech, attendees gained in-depth information on publications of schools’ inspection reports through the Irtiqa’a Program, which aims at putting in place a comprehensive evaluation system with international standards to ensure a high quality education system in Abu Dhabi. This is done through identifying the different levels of schools quality, providing the needed support in order to meet high standards, and encouraging best education practices and exchange of education expertise.
Some of the advantages of publishing the inspection reports were also demonstrated to the attendees. Some of which include, among many, ensuring the quality of education thus equipping students with knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the future, ensuring the existence of safe and appealing school environments for students, and providing effective learning and progress levels for all students equally.
“Making inspection reports available helps place a comprehensive evaluation system based on international standards as well as develops evidence based policies and programs to serve the Abu Dhabi 2030 vision. Our main aim is to help raise quality of education across schools in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi through working hand in hand with school leadership and management in improving their schools’ performance, standards and competitiveness,” said Engineer Al Dhaheri.
ADEC’s strategic plan 2013-2017 to promote national identity was also highlighted during the meeting to include the employment of Emirati teachers in private schools, design and launch the program “my identity” and provide internships at private schools for Emirati students who are preparing for their bachelor degree in education.
Schools were advised to strengthen their national identity through taking part in activities such as the implementation of private education sector regulations, development of an independent policy on promoting the national identity and consolidation of cultural education of the UAE, and celebration of National Day.
Teachers are advised to include national identity in their day to day teaching and learning processes, through activities and resources related to the UAE culture and heritage including:  the UAE National Dress, handicrafts, traditional games, stories, poetry and food.
School students are also required to learn more about the UAE heritage and culture through trips to museums, archaeological sites, heritage places or any relevant excursion.
The next presentation during the meeting, spoke about PSQA’s new regulation implementation.
“The PSQA regulations have been effective since February 12th 2013 as part of Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030 to maintain a solid and strong private education sector that offers an affordable world class private education. These regulations are meant to encourage transparency, commitment and dedication towards PSQA’s stakeholders who are offered concise and detailed information on the private school sector,” said Engineer Al Dhaheri.
The objectives of the private school regulations include providing a comprehensive framework of regulations in line with ADEC, federal and local regulations and international best practices, while providing legal basis to regulate the administrative operations and educational provisions of private schools in Abu Dhabi to improve the quality and standards of education; to attract and encourage investment in the private education sector through the implementation of clear, fair and transparent directions and to define the rights and responsibilities of all stakeholders including parents, students, investors and school owners, principals and teaching staff.
Key areas covered by the private school regulations include quality of education, teaching quality, school fees, school governance, school reporting, core values in education, school transportation, UAE national identity, curriculum and assessment, school licensing, health and safety of students, inspection and self evaluation, school improvement, building and facilities, compliance with government entities and parental engagement.
Attendees were also briefed on the benefits of the E-SIS since its introduction across private schools in May 2011. The system has helped include demographics, registration and transfers of 200,000 students with 50,000 new online registrations which have greatly helped assist parents. E-SIS has also helped provide school information facilities staff, grades for 185 schools and 12,000 teachers and administrative staff. Daily attendance and SMS has been available since last year for P-13 students across 15 curriculum schools.
“E-SIS has brought about huge advantages to all parties concerned, since it’s helped eliminate the use of paperwork. Registering new students no longer requires piles of files, since approvals are done on time to avoid having to reject a student after months of being enrolled. Other online processes that are now done in a speedy manner include transferring students, student report cards, progress reports, statistics and analysis that help provide ADEC management an insight on a student’s progress,” concluded Engineer Al Dhaheri.
When asked to give to his opinion regarding the meeting, Sheikh Salem Mohammed bin Rakad Al Amri, member of the Federal National Council, said “I am very impressed with the attendance of this meeting where everyone is participating, ADEC, school owners and principles. ADEC was very clear in describing the educational reform and did a great job in conveying their message clearly.”
Another school owner, Mr. Ghanim Al Marzoui, described the meeting as excellent, informative and very well organized. “This meeting encourages us school owners to go back to our schools and carefully implement the private schools regulations in order to help benefit students and take part in the educational reform.”
School Principal Mr. Ahmed Manasra felt the meeting was professional and clear. “This drives us to understand the Abu Dhabi 2030 vision regarding private schools more. It is clear that ADEC is taking part in reforming the education system in order to encourage qualified students to compete nationally and internationally.”
Mr. Bava Haji P., school owner, felt the meeting was transparent and learnt new information in today’s meeting, some of which includes the school transportation system, national identity and more. “We are more than happy to abide by these new regulations and look forward to being part of the education reform.”