EMIRATISATION IN EDUCATION: THE WAY FORWARD FOR THE CLASSROOM ASSISTANTS INITIATIVE
Higher Colleges of Technology (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:A two year Classroom Assistants (CA) diploma programme for female Emirati students was set up in January 2013. This was in response to an initiative from the government to support students attending primary schools with a Special Educational Need (SEN).
The programme has been running for three years and is now being phased out, to end in December 2016. Previous investigation on experiences and aspirations of classroom assistant students was carried out on the first graduating cohort in January 2015. The aim of this current investigation is to follow up with these students one year after graduating.
Focus groups and interviews were carried out to help answer the following questions:
• Were the students satisfied with the programme?
• Were the educational experiences and skills acquired on this programme applied in their current situation?
• Did the educational experience equip them to make meaningful decisions at this current stage of their lives?
This study is important and beneficial for educational institutions responding to government requests to add value and meet the needs of the school communities. A major drive in the UAE is to meaningfully employ its citizens in public and private sectors; a process known as Emiratisation. By understanding this programme from the student perspective, allows educational providers to tailor their programmes in such way as to positively impact this Emiratisation process.
Findings suggest that students were satisfied with the skills and the knowledge they had acquired over the two years. Reflections indicated a change in their outlook as well as an appreciation of the benefits of working with young learners. The teaching practicum proved a transformative experience.
It is recommended that after graduation, diploma students, gain more experience in the classroom before transitioning into a Bachelor Programme. It is also recommended that when graduates gain employment in schools, they are supported and mentored to allow them to grow and develop as practitioners.
Keywords: Emiratisation, International English Language Testing System (IELTS), diploma, bachelor, degree, transition, reflections, classroom assistants.