The IB recently celebrated growth with the 50th authorized IB World School in UAE, with Dubai International Academy – Al Barshahg0088手机版登录 recently joining the ranks. In our exclusive interview with Dina Khalaf, Development and Recognition Manager from the IB, we discuss what factors contributed to the success of the IB curriculum in the UAE, as well as her thoughts on how the IB helps enhance the learning experience for students.
What would you attribute to the success of the IB curriculum growing in the UAE?
The UAEhg0088手机版登录 is home to over 200 nationalities, so the global and multicultural aspects of the IB’s philosophy is attractive to many families who relocate here, as well as Emiratis who want a global education for their children. The UAE community has a high level of respect for education and understands the value of having a globally recognized qualification; meaning that families are easily able to move abroad and their children can join another school and pick up the same high-quality education they would have received at an IB World School in the UAE.
The IB offers a first-class education that respects heritage and history, placing emphasis on the importance of students’ maintaining their mother tongue and deep knowledge of their own culture. For example, Emirati students can, and do, study Arabic through the IB alongside another language. Thus, an IB education meets the needs of all students regardless of their country of origin.
How do IB World Schools help students grow different skills?
The beauty of an IB education is that it focuses on educating the whole child and equipping them with skills, such as critical thinking, communication, social, self-management and research, that serve students well beyond their school years; these are known as the IB’s approaches to learning. Students also benefit from developing the 10 IB learner profile attributes (to be risk-takers, principled, communicators, thinkers, inquirers, knowledgeable, open-minded, caring, balanced and reflective). The IB learner profile and approaches to teaching and learning underpin all four IB programmes (the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme, the Diploma Programme and the Career-related Programme) and will be found in every single IB World School.
The IB also offers a broad and balanced curriculum – while students learn core academic subjects, there is equal weighting and emphasis on subjects like history, languages and arts. One of the main benefits of the IB, and the way in which we ensure conceptual learning, is through the flexibility within each programme, and the subjects and projects that are included in each; for example, the personal project for the Middle Years Programme or the extended essay for the Diploma Programme. Each child is unique, whether they are more interested in STEM, music or geography; each programme is designed to reflect this.
How have schools adapted to distance learning? What were some of the challenges faced?
Overall, I think schools, educators and students have adapted well. This all happened so suddenly, which left schools with very little time to plan, yet it is amazing how they were able to meet the challenge and come through for their students by developing lesson plans that are appropriate for online learning, overcoming technology/platform challenges, dealing with a very stressful situation in addition to learning new skills to allow for successful distance learning. It has been inspiring to see the “can do” attitude of many IB World Schools and their learning communities; we have seen some of our schools undertake virtual sports days, art exhibitions and host model UN conferences!
Now that many universities are rolling out online classes, do you think this will take away from the learning experience for future students?
hg0088手机版登录It is a given that a student’s learning experience will change and that some of the valuable life skills that students learn from a traditional university setting will be lost (hopefully temporarily). However, other skills will be replaced and over time universities will find a way to enrich the online experience to better serve their students. It is exciting to think that this year’s cohort, who will be attending university this September, will be better prepared for virtual learning and the independent style of learning that university studies require.
How can we better prepare students for a future of online learning?
hg0088手机版登录In order to better prepare students for a future of online learning, IB World Schools should keep the IB’s approaches to teaching and learning at the forefront of their planning. Schools must also be agile and able to make swift changes in order to continuously change and improve approaches to online learning as we all continue to navigate the “new normal”.
Dina Khalaf is the IB’s Development & Recognition Manager working to support new and existing schools in Africa, Europe and the Middle East region. In addition to her work with schools, she engages with regulatory bodies, ministries and universities to articulate the IB’s strategy. With an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Lehigh Universityhg0088手机版登录, USA, Dina gained extensive school-based IB programme experience prior to joining the IB in 2014. In addition, she has a strong background in IB teacher training, consultancy and evaluation of schools based on IB standards.
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