Ministry to upgrade schools by bridging ‘Tech Gap’

For the next two years, the key initiative of the Ministry of Education (MoE) will be to bridge the gap between technologically backward schools and those that are advanced by the implementation of standards aligned to an international society that formulates education guidelines. Incorporating technology still remains an issue with some schools being more technologically advanced than others as curricula vary, said speakers at a presentation at the Gulf Education and Technology Exhibition 2009?(GETEX) that began in Dubai, on Wednesday. Elizabeth A. Ross, Educational Advisor at the MoE's Professional Development Department, said that the educational governing body will be working with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to lay a foundation to bridge the digital divide and incorporate technology for the best teaching practices in schools.

The ISTE is an organisation that brings together educators from 73 nations to formulate standards to apply information and communication technology (ICT) in teaching. Using technology for classroom management, instruction, student understanding and assisting those with special needs are integral to development. According to the standards, teachers must understand growth and development of students, the learning environment, curriculum and instructional technology to be applied. The MoE has implemented a five-year Professional Development Plan and will be focusing on blanket standards that need to be applied by schools in the UAE. 'We will also be developing a Centre for Excellence in Learning Techniques Department,' said Ross, adding that the entire programme is being headed by Nabila Ali, Director of Professional Development at the MoE. The UAE is not a registered country with the ISTE but many schools use its standards in the country. 'I am not completely aware of the number of schools registered from the region but we know schools are catching up. We are currently trying to work with the Ministry of Education, Knowledge Human Development Authority (KHDA) and the Abu Dhabi Education Council to formalise the efficient use of technology in classrooms,' said Knezek.

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