Madares Al Ghad system to be extended to Grade 4

DUBAI — The Madares Al Ghad (MAG) programme initiated in public schools by the Ministry of Education to develop bilingual UAE nationals will be extended to Grade 4 in the new academic year.

By Afshan Ahmed (?KT Exclusive)

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Published: Fri 30 Jul 2010, 1:08 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:08 AM

At the 50 Future Schools, where the MAG programme was initiated in 2008, the primary education curriculum was revamped and Mathematics and Science were being taught in the English language as well.

The project was being assessed to determine its future roll out. The review has been completed and the findings presented to the Minister of Education.

Shaikha Al Shamsi, Chief Executive for Educational Effairs at the Ministry said they were moving ahead with its implementation. “This year, the MAG curriculum will be extended to Grade 4 where Mathematics and Science will be taught in English as well,” she told Khaleej Times.

The curriculum was first developed for three subjects in Grades 1, 2 and 3 and only in the English language at the high school level. This was in response to the weak English language skills among students especially after they reached the university level. Over 90 per cent of students that pass out of public schools require remedial courses before they start a degree programme.

The curriculum also aimed to move from rote-based pedagogy, widely noticed in most public schools, to a student centred teaching approach. Though the complete results of the review and student outcomes were not revealed, the plan to continue MAG is a positive sign.

“There are a lot of changes happening in these schools with focus on a more efficient pedagogy,” said Al Shamsi. “The infrastructure and resources used in these subjects are expanding beyond the English language classroom. Other subject teachers are adopting the same methods of teaching and are sharing notes and resources,” she said.

When the concept of Future Schools was introduced, some principals believed that teaching subjects in the English language would dilute the Arabic language skills of UAE nationals. Al Shamsi said these were initial reservations and the ministry was now receiving positive feedback from parents and the school management.

“A young child can easily pick up more than one language,” said Al Shamsi.

“In MAG schools, there is no decrease in the number of lessons taught in Arabic and hence there is never any conflict with national identity.”

However, the Ministry is facing a shortage of bilingual teachers at public schools.

“We do not have enough MOE teachers to teach Mathematics and Science in English so we will start training programmes to address this problem,” Al Shamsi, said.

A team comprising teacher development professionals from abroad was recruited to train teachers. Nahla Samir of Al Rayan Primary School for Boys, Fujairah that follows the MAG programme now engages her students in visual-based projects and role-play sessions.

“It is more hands on for the students, but I would still like to see more of an Emirati culture woven into the syllabus,” said the teacher.

Her Teacher Development Supervisor, Sally Ahmed said the training and support provided have enhanced the confidence of teachers. “Students respond with better grades and this gives the teachers an incentive to work better,” she said.

The Ministry will now work with the same team of teachers and will conduct an orientation session to acquaint the staff with the objectives and outcomes expected from the system.

“We will target the new and existing staff as well as the principals to reinforce the MAG philosophy,” Al Shamisi, said.—

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