الفنلنديADEC Awards the 1st graduate cohort of teachers who completed the Finnish professional development program
Abu Dhabi, July 1st 2012 – As part of the Abu Dhabi – Finnish Educational partnership, 17 Emirati female teachers have successfully completed a Professional Development (PD) Programme Certificate in Education from the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, leaving them an option to continue their Master’s Degree.
During their graduation ceremony held at the Al Ameen School, His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director General at the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), handed over the graduation certificates to 16 Teachers and one Vice Principal from across two schools – the Al Ameen and Al Raqiah.
Present at the ceremony was Professor Aino Sallinen Rector of the University of Jyvaskyla; HE Ilkka-Pekka Simila, Finnish Ambassador to UAE; Elise Tarvainen, Director of Global Operations Educluster Finland, Jussi Kainulainen, Programme Manager, EPA Partnership, ADEC and various senior ADEC officials and high-level representatives from the University of Jyvaskyla.
The 1st cohort of graduates completed 60 credit hours of Pedagogical Studies; one academic year corresponds to 60 ECTS-credits that is equivalent to 1500–1800 hours of study. Pedagogical studies are equivalent to half the years of a Masters Degree, which is 120 ECTS.
The initiative is part of a five year partnership between ADEC and EduCluster Finland Ltd (a new generation expert organization specializing in education and development) to help develop an Emirati-Finnish fusion environment for the two Cycle 1 schools, Al Ameen Boys School in Abu Dhabi, which currently consists of 300 students and the Al Raqiah Girls School in Al Ain, which consists of 500 students.
“Finland is one of the world’s leaders in the academic performance of its secondary school students, a position it has held for the past decade. As part of ADEC’s New School Model, our aim is to provide our teachers with the best hands-on experience possible, one that compares to international teaching standards. We have confidence in our teaching staff and know that they will master what they have learnt from the Finnish experience in their own classrooms, while incorporating the UAE’s culture and national identity,” said Dr. Al Khaili.
Speaking during the event Professor Aino Sallinen, Rector of the University of Jyvaskyla, said that: “Education is the most powerful force to shape the future of an individual and a nation. The ADEC New School Model is a pedagogical and cultural innovation implemented in a mutual enriching interaction with Emirati and Finnish educational experts. Completing the PD programme of 60 ECTS awarded by the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland is a respectable achievement and a significant milestone in promoting continuous educational excellence in Emirati schools”.
As part of the programme’s plan to focus on an integrated educational approach which encourages bi-literacy teaching techniques, Finnish principals and teachers have been employed to teach English, Mathematics and Science in both schools, while adapting to an Emirati environmental context.
“We have employed Finnish teachers so that we can showcase some of our effective teaching methods while learning more about the Emirati culture. The partnership has been a great experience for both parties, and we look forward to accommodating our 2nd cohort of graduates during the next academic school year,” said Jussi Kainulainen, Programme Manager, EPA Partnership, ADEC.
As part of the partnership, a total of 40 Emirati Teachers and Vice Principals will undergo the Pedagogical Study PD programme. The 2nd cohort of teachers from the same two schools will undergo a similar intensive person-to-person tutoring and mentoring experience.
Similar to the 17 PD graduates, the next batch will be given the opportunity to build learning communities, gain evidence based educational practices, enrich their learning and teaching, while consolidating professional learning and teaching.
Dr. Riitta Hanninen, a Professional Development Lead Expert from Educluster kept a close eye on how the learning process was going for the graduates through her ongoing visits from Finland, which included two weeks per month visits.
One of the PD graduates, Ms. Awatif Ahmed Hassan, an Islamic Teacher at the Al Ameen School spoke about her experience with the Pedagogical Study. “I first heard about the PD programme when ADEC sent an internal email to all its schools regarding its partnership with Educluster to offer a masters degree with Jyvaskyla University. I immediately decided to transfer to Al Ameen School to pursue the programme and I don’t regret my decision one bit. My English since then has improved tremendously, and I’ve travelled to Finland twice so far.”
She went on to say: “Despite it being a challenge to keep up with work, family and studies, I have learnt to teach and mingle with my students in a completely different way. Similar to the Finnish way of teaching, I have learnt to deal with each student depending on their individual capabilities and needs. This helps create a less stressful experience for both teacher and student, while encouraging a long-term learning progress. Students interact and have fun while studying, unlike the classic way of teaching, which solely involved memorization. I look forward to completing my journey and pursuing my Master’s Degree.”
Kholoud Al Dhaheri, Vice Principal in Al Raqiah School, was the only graduate who pursued her PD studies in a different field than the rest. She studied “Leadership skills”.
Her experience with the programme has helped her reflect what she’s learnt in her own day to day duties as a Vice Principal. “The programme was based on theory and practice rather than memorization, which I found very effective and beneficial since it helped direct my way of thinking. For instance, I no longer enter a classroom and focus on the way a teacher teaches, but focus more on the way students react to what they’ve been taught and how they reflect what they’ve learnt inside and outside their classrooms.”
She added: “We’ve learnt how to express our own opinions and voice our concerns when necessary. The transparency has helped boost my confidence while feeling a sense of accomplishment and appreciation. I’m definitely interested in continuing my Master’s Degree as part of the same programme, I’m almost half way there already!”
ADEC’s global partnerships are part of what Dr. Al Khaili called an initiative to help cultivate young Emirati graduates and future leaders with necessary skills required to keep up with a globally competitive environment.
“The PD graduates are now considered well-rounded individuals with strong academic credentials. Their international exposure has helped drive them towards undertaking more creative and interactive methods of teaching, which is exactly what we aim to do through our New School Model. We want our students to become ambassadors for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and to represent our country in a positive way to the rest of the world, and that can only be achieved through a solid education system. I wish our graduates a fruitful and informative journey that will help develop their personal and professional skills as well as that of others,” concluded ADEC’s Director General.