Finding out ‘What Works’ for schools, over 500 teachers and students attended the conference hosted by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) at Zayed University’s Convention Centre on Monday. A select group of school leaders shared best practices as they discussed ways to develop overall education in Dubai.
Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director-General of the KHDA, commended the initiative as he said, “It is the start of the academic year and we wanted schools to benefit from each other. We share a common belief that improvement of the sector can only happen if we all embrace a positive approach.”
Principals and teachers of schools arriving for the conference at the Zayed University’s Convention Centre in Dubai Academic City on Monday. — KT photos by Rahul Gajjar
A total of 16 presentations by different schools shed light on some of the best practices followed in Dubai’s schools as topics ranged from personal development of students to the use of mobile technology in learning.
Jameela Al Muhairai, Chief of Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB), explained the need for such collaboration between schools as she said, “We have some of the best educators in the region. When you go to their schools, you can see straight away that these educators are serious about delivering excellent teaching and learning.”
Teachers from the School of Research Science highlighted how their school had developed a unique way of teaching Islamic Studies and Arabic. Students at the school benefit from special Quran memorisation classes while they are also encouraged to spend time reading Islamic stories and biographies.
“Students start their day with a short class on Quran recitation and we ensure they spend at least a third of their school time studying Islam and Arabic,” said a presenter from the school.
The school has also developed its own Arabic grammar book to make it easy for students to grasp the language.
Dr Sonia Ben Jaafar of EduEval Educational Services delivered the keynote address as she said, “We found that when schools collaborate openly in a focused manner, the joint work results in better teacher and school practices and student achievement.”
Earlier during the day, students from Repoton School, Dubai Modern High and Jumeirah College presented a model debate as they discussed the topic, ‘Dubai schools equip students as 21st century learner’.
Special education remains a concern
The conference also discussed ways to open up avenues for students with special education needs as teachers from the GEMS Jumeirah Primary highlighted how they had set up a dyslexia unit at the school.
Al Muhairi highlighted the importance of the issue as she said, “In our schools today, there are many students who are still not getting the education they deserve. This year, our inspectors focused on special education needs. We found that some schools had really thought about the best ways of delivering quality education to students with special educational needs. But, many more had not, often because they did not know how to.”
Schools turn down most special needs students, as they are not equipped to cater to their learning needs. Studies suggest that the number of students with learning difficulties in the Middle East is increasing.
“When we work together to really support our special education needs students, this reflects well on all our schools. We want our education system to be inclusive,” she concluded.
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