Dubai Begins Teacher Licensing to 'Raise Quality'

A pilot project aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning across the UAE, is being rolled out across 15 private schools in Dubai.
Dubai Begins Teacher Licensing to 'Raise Quality'
By David Westley
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A pilot project aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning across the UAE, is being rolled out across 15 private schools in Dubai.

More than 200 teachers are expected to participate in the Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards (TELS) and Licensing pilot project.

The Dubai move follows a similar development in Abu Dhabi last week, involving 400 teachers in the capital.

The National Qualifications Authority (NQA) has said the Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards (TELS) and Licensing project aims to meet targets of the UAE National Agenda, aligned to UAE Vision 2021.

The schools involved in the pilot scheme include: GEMS Our Own English High School, Al Khaleej National School, GEMS Dubai American Academy, GEMS Wellington International School, The Westminster School, Al Mawaken School - Garhoud,  New World Private School, Jumeira Baccalaureate School, Deira International School, Universal American School, Al Ittihad Private School, The Indian High School, School of Modern Skills, Al Rashid Al Saleh Private School, and Swiss International Scientific School.

According to Dr Thani Ahmed Al Mehairi, Director General of National Qualifications Authority (NQA), the teacher licensing project is designed to raise the "quality of teaching" and "guarantee a minimum knowledge and skills associated with teaching.” 

Teachers at all levels will need to be able to "demonstrate professional competence and provide first rate teaching and learning for learners across the UAE". There is currently no federal or local teacher’s licence in the UAE. As part of the teacher-licensing project, the competence of teachers will be mapped against performance criteria and indicators. Teachers will have to demonstrate knowledge and understanding along with skills and application as part of the requirements of acquiring a teaching license. 

The initiative is aligned with the UAE Vision and National Agenda in "adapting international best practices for teaching and creating a first rate education system", according to a media statement. "Teachers will undergo professional development and assessment, which will be aimed at standardizing their skills and practice to ensure a high quality of teaching and learning in schools."

Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) added "this is a good opportunity for the UAE to produce a teacher licensing system which can work as a global tool. The teacher licensing project will have a positive impact on the overall quality of education and it will also extend greater career opportunities to teachers by improving their mobility.”

Dr Naji Al Mahdi, Chief of Qualifications and Awards in Dubai explained the implementation of teacher licensing project will be spread over three stages. In the first stage, teachers will apply for the Provisional License, followed by the second stage of self-assessment and training. In the third stage, teachers will take a TELSUAE exam to receive UAE competent teacher status license.

Jeff Smith, Director of Deira International School noted the importance of teacher licensing as he said, “Professional recognition of teachers is important and it will definitely improve the social status of teachers by adding to their professionalism. There is a lot to gain from this initiative."

Elisabeth Swartz, a Grade 5 teacher at Dubai American Academy said, "Being an effective teacher is much more than being an expert in subject matter. Student-centered teaching, establishing and maintaining professional relationships with students, promoting positive learning environments, understanding personal and professional ethics within the UAE are skills that prospective teachers will learn through this programme."

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