PENCILS DOWN

Saudi Arabia 2020 | EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

Part of ETEC's efforts revolve around establishing a culture of quality, continuous improvement, and innovation in the education and training system.

Husam Zaman
BIOGRAPHY

Husam Abdelwahab Zaman was appointed President of ETEC in 2019, after serving as a board member for three years. He has extensive executive experience in the education sector and was previously the president of Taif University, director general of the Regional Center for Quality and Excellence in Education, and campus president at Saudi Electronic University, in addition to various leadership positions at Taibah University. Zaman holds a PhD in administration and policy studies from the University of Pittsburgh.

Amongst the primary objectives of Vision 2030 include having five Saudi universities in global top 200 rankings. What role do you see for ETEC to drive this agenda?
ETEC has considered three strategic objectives to leverage the academic excellence and support these national efforts. These include enhancing learning outcomes by increasing the coverage, scope and quality of national assessments and tests; promoting excellence between education and training institutions and programs by development and expansion of evaluation and accreditation; and establishing a culture of quality, continuous improvement, and innovation in the education and training system. Each objective has been translated through KPIs, targets, and strategic initiatives. The strategic initiatives associated with each strategic objectives include developing and enforcing national assessments and tests for higher education learning outcomes and readiness of graduates; guiding and promoting excellence between higher education institutions and programs through evaluation and accreditation; improving education and training by monitoring and reporting the quality and status of education and training system; and engaging stakeholders to promote excellence and improve the education and training system.

How do you help improve graduate employability, and how should critical thinking and other soft skills be instilled in students?
Aligning graduate employability with Vision 2030 is essential to achieve the national masterplan. Our children entering schools today will become youths in 2030, and we will have to prepare them for jobs that have not yet been created, technologies that have not yet been invented, and problems that have not yet emerged. To address these challenges, ETEC has involved all stakeholders from the public, private, and third sectors to identify the skills and values that students need to develop and shape their future. We incorporated these skills and values into the K-12 curriculum framework and standards, which include, for example, critical thinking, problem-solving, and ICT skills, communication, self-learning, and collaboration. Also, schools' evaluation standards place more emphasis on the teaching and learning practices that equip students with 21st-century skills. For higher education, we stress the importance of employability skills through accreditation standards and processes for both institutional and program accreditations.

What are your strategic priorities and ambitions for the coming year?
ETEC's strategic priorities and ambitions for the coming year are driven by its strategy developed in alignment with assigned goals, Vision 2030 objectives, and the Human Capital Development Program. The assigned goals for ETEC are to design, set up, and deploy the assigned initiatives within the development program; enhance standards and frameworks for assessment, evaluation, qualifications, and accreditations; develop capacity for assessment and evaluating of education and training programs and outcomes; support national efforts to promote and deploy licensing of education and training system professionals; and take forward the ongoing work of enhancing ETEC's efficiency as an integrated entity as decreed by the royal resolution.