NATIONAL EDUCATION

Abu Dhabi 2017 | EDUCATION | B2B

Abu Dhabi is pioneering education not just within the Emirates but throughout the entire region.

DR. Mohamad Kashef
DR. MOHAMAD KASHEF
Vice Chancellor & CEO
Alhosn University
Kenneth Vedra
KENNETH VEDRA
Director General
Emirates National Schools (ENS)

In what ways are you encouraging innovation among your students and spearheading the government's Vision 2021 for a competitive, knowledge-based economy?

Mohamad Kashef Firstly, ALHOSN backs the campaign to include more and more young people in the private sector and is proud to have many graduates who have gone on to assume senior level positions. There are some large companies whose workforce is made up entirely of engineers who graduated from ALHOSN University. Every department in ALHOSN University has an advisory board made up of members from the private sector, which helps to forge a strong connection between education and practice, empowering students to become active agents in their work environment. We encourage brainstorming sessions and communication with the public and private sectors, and create student forums. Secondly, we encourage our students to be outward looking and internationally minded. For example, we host seminars with the American Corner, a branch of the US State Department, which attracts many guests from abroad and promotes technology transfer and the exchange of knowledge. We have also hosted the US embassy several times, and our students have participated in many of its initiatives to draft a strategy for business cooperation between the UAE and the US. Finally, we support our students in innovating and pioneering their own ideas, whether in mobile applications or in civil engineering research projects. Through these methods we seek to revolutionize learning, transforming it into an entrepreneurial, dynamic process where the students are actively shaping their futures.

Kenneth Vedra It is not just STEM and STEM plus Arts (STEAM) subjects that we focus on, but also getting students to think creatively and critically. The International Baccalaureate framework does an excellent job of facilitating this kind of thinking. A knowledge-based economy is not just about generating knowledge, but about knowing what to do with it. The International Baccalaureate framework is inquiry-based learning and results in more out-of-the-box thinking. In Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives, the top-two levels are synthesis and evaluation, whereby students begin questioning why and how, thus engaging in a higher level of thinking. In terms of particular subjects, we are heavily involved in math and science and our students perform well in these subjects. Our students are also excelling in terms of what they are producing on the arts and humanities side. We host an annual Art Fair at our Al Ain campus, where students will be displaying between 500 and 600 works in 2017. We are proud of what our students are producing and engaging in and the creativity they exhibit both in the arts and sciences.

What projects or developments are you most excited about for 2017?

MK ALHOSN has three main goals for the next 12 months, namely physical expansion, international outreach, and community engagement. In 2018, we are moving to another campus, which will provide better facilities, allowing us to expand and accommodate a greater number of students. We would like to secure international accreditation for all our courses and enhance our student exchange programs with overseas universities. Finally, we want to encourage our students to be more engaged with the local community, organizing platforms for civil defense and sustainable development in various municipalities through which they can propose solutions for real problems. We hope this will inspire the kind of leadership that this country needs in its young graduates.

KV We have a lot going on. We are currently expanding our campuses in Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah. We have doubled the number of pupils in our International Baccalaureate diploma classes. 2016 was the first year we had grade-12 students graduate with the International Baccalaureate, and it has been extremely successful. The usual pass rate for schools in their first year of graduating the diploma program is 40-50%, and ENS achieved 65%. In terms of individual courses, 71% of our Emirati students passed their classes and our overall success rate was 83% for individual courses. That is a phenomenal success, and we are very pleased. We have double the number of students graduating in 2017 either in one course or the whole International Baccalaureate diploma. Our new strategic plan is focused on improvements in achievements in reading, writing, and mathematics using international-based norms. We also want to focus on the earlier development of second language skills.