Parents welcome new school model

ABU DHABI — Rawya Nasser, a Grade 2 student at Alafaq Junior Model School checks the class schedule posted on the board by the school entrance with her mother.

By Olivia Olarte

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Published: Fri 17 Sep 2010, 12:15 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:41 PM

Rawya is excited to start school and says she looks forward to her play time period but at the same time admits she likes her Science subject.

At seven years, Rawya speaks good English, an ability that will serve her well as the education system shifts into bi-lingual teaching – English and Arabic – when schools reopened on Wednesday.

With the new school model (NSM) implemented by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) for Kindergarten to Grade 3 starting this academic year, Rawya is one of the 38,000 students from the 171 schools who will benefit at this transition. The NSM is expected to be fully integrated into the public education system – from Kindergarten to Grade 12 – by 2015-2016 school term.

Rawya’s mother, Seena Farea, says she is not aware of the new school model but agreed that this is the best way forward for her kids.

Umm Sherin, whose daughter is in the second grade, says she knew about the changes and is fully appreciative of the efforts to improve the English language skills of the students.

“Learning English from the early stage is good,” she said.

The English-speaking teachers at Alafaq who were hired by ADEC specifically to support the NSM initiative observe that their students are up to the challenge and that they are eager to learn.

“Their English now has improved a lot compared to last year,” says Tasneem Hamed, a Grade 3 English, Maths and Science teacher from the US. The NSM pilot phase was introduced last year at Alafaq School and Hamed was one of the teachers hired to be at the helm of the programme.

“I was prepared for a very limited English skill amongst the students, but their English is quite good, some can hold a conversation and others can understand me,” said Jessica Martinez, also a Grade 3 English, Science and Math teacher who just came from the US this year. “I think they are really ready to learn... and although it’s a bit challenging (at first), they’ll get it through consistency,” she added.

For the NSM, ADEC has recruited 1,405 native English-speaking teachers from the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland, to teach English and, Math and Science in English, from Grades 1-3. Those in the Kindergarten will partner Arabic teachers in teaching other topics and in developing social skills.

With NSM, teaching methods will be more child-centred, active and technologically enhanced. The curriculum will focus on literacy and numeracy and teaches in high level English and Arabic.

“It is wonderful to see the initiatives ADEC implemented slowly, but surely, coming to fruition. We are proud to see Abu Dhabi’s educational landscape positively shifting and our students reaping the benefits of years of planning and dedication from everyone involved,” said Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director General, ADEC during his visit of the public schools on Wednesday.

The new school year will see 11 new schools opening and 297 schools renovated to meet ADEC’s facility standards. The 297 public schools have around 130,256 students in its rolls and 16,000 public school teachers.

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