Abu Dhabi teacher licensing is brought forward


ABU DHABI // Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) aims to have teachers at all public and private schools licensed at least a year ahead of schedule.

The move is part of the UAE’s first teacher-licensing scheme, which is being introduced nationally in stages, starting from the next academic year.

“Our target is to finish the teacher licensing by at least 2019 or 2020,” said Dr Mohamed Baniyas, who is overseeing the implementation of the Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards and Licensing (Tels UAE) programme in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Gharbia.

The aim is to ensure that all teachers, cluster managers, vice principals and principals hold a professional teaching licence by the end of 2021.

About 23,500 teachers work in Abu Dhabi’s public and private schools, according to the Statistical Yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2016.

Dr Baniyas said Adec would reach its accelerated goal by setting ambitious annual targets for schools.

Next academic year, schools will be asked to enrol 30 per cent of their teachers, cluster managers, vice principals and principals in the programme.

Adec aims to have 50 per cent of teachers licensed by 2018, 80 per cent by 2019 and 100 per cent by 2020, a year ahead of the national goal.

“We want to leave the last year for any kind of modifications for any challenges we face,” Dr Baniyas said.

The programme is being carried out by the National Qualifications Authority, the Ministry of Education, Adec, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and the Institute of Applied Technology.

However, the rollout varies depending on the entities’ jurisdictions. Last week, the KHDA, which governs private schools in Dubai, outlined how teachers earn the national licence.

Adec’s version of Tels UAE is similar to Dubai’s. Both eliminated teaching experience as a prerequisite for employment.

“We are trying to align or to revise our qualification requirements for teachers,” Dr Baniyas said.

Professionals and university graduates without education qualifications can apply for the provisional teaching licence if they earn their education training and certification through Tels UAE.

“Chemical engineers, for example, can teach chemistry or physics,” Dr Baniyas said. “This is more about the diversification of the learning experience.”

Non-native English speakers who want to be English medium teachers in Abu Dhabi will need to score at least 6.5 on the International English Language Testing System (Ielts).

“We are thinking of raising it a little bit, but keeping the 6.5 for science and maths,” Dr Baniyas said. “If they are going to teach the English subject in Cycle 2 or Cycle 3, then we may raise it to seven. We are revising that, but we still have not finalised it.”

In Dubai, the minimum Ielts requirement is six or higher.

The licence will be valid for two years in Abu Dhabi and three years in Dubai. Teachers from English-speaking countries who hold a foreign, recognised teaching licence will be fast-tracked through Dubai’s Tels UAE.

In Abu Dhabi, the process would be similar, Dr Baniyas said.

“At this stage we will not exempt them completely, but we will take it into consideration in combination with their experience,” he said.

“Some of them may not have to take the exam but they may have to sit for an interview. Or we may ask them to write a shorter version of the test. We will decide based on the qualification they have.”

Dr Baniyas said the cost of licensing teachers had yet to be decided but he expected it to not exceed Dh2,500. That includes the registration, exam and professional development course, which is recommended but not required.