From education to employment

Transforming Pre-University Education at Qatar Foundation: Empowering Educators for an Inclusive Global Learning Environment

Abeer Al Khalifa

In this article, Abeer Al Khalifa discusses the increasing internationalisation of education. Al Khalifa explores supporting diverse student bodies via teacher training and technological advancements among other routes.

The increasing internationalisation of the world is evident in both the UK and other countries. While this comes with various challenges, it also creates ample opportunities. In recent times there has been significant progress and a growing emphasis in the Middle East region on providing quality pre-university education to young learners within an internationalised setting. Qatar Foundation, in particular, has played a pivotal role in spearheading educational advancements and ensuring that students in the region have access to world-class educational opportunities.

One of the key aspects of development in pre-university education has been the shift towards student-centred learning approaches. Pivotal in this academic transformation are teachers – and the necessity in equipping them with the correct training and skills to not only foster academic excellence but also nurturing critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving skills, and digital literacy among their students.

Tailored training

A major challenge facing the education industry is teacher retention – both in the UK and globally. To ensure longevity of careers, teachers must feel heard and supported and a key factor in this is providing personal development plans.

At Qatar Foundation, we prioritise the provision of comprehensive and tailored professional development programs as part of our innovative approach. Specifically, Qatar Foundations Pre-University Education (PUE) Division collaborates closely with teachers on a continual basis to understand their individual needs and offer customised training opportunities.

Programmes that focus on the latest pedagogical techniques, instructional methodologies, and emerging educational technologies that can be implemented within the school are regularly provided or through opportunities from Education City, an initiative of Qatar Foundation that has brought together multiple leading universities and educational institutions from around the world to create a unique hub for higher education.

Our goal is to ensure that teachers are aware of their career journey and have a clear understanding of the paths they can follow. In today’s educational landscape, there is a wealth of opportunities for professional growth, and it is critical that teachers be aware of their abilities, aspirations and personal goals.

We recently launched our “I am a Teacher” campaign, to raise awareness about the teaching profession. The campaign reaches out to Qatari teachers in our community to encourage them to join our schools and benefit from the expertise of our other teachers.

Embracing technological advancements

Despite technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), being a controversial topic in schools in recent months we are aware that it can also considerably help schools enhance teacher training. Online platforms and digital resources offer flexibility around work schedules and accessible learning opportunities. Our resources include interactive modules, webinars, and online communities where teachers can engage in discussions, access resources, and participate in virtual professional development programmes.

We also believe in the power of collaboration and networking among educators. We facilitate regular workshops, seminars, and conferences that bring teachers together to share best practices, exchange ideas, and learn from one another. These platforms serve as a catalyst for professional growth and enable teachers to stay updated with the latest trends and research in education.

Overall, we aim to empower educators to thrive in their roles and create transformative learning experiences for our students.

Equipping teachers to address the needs of a diverse student body  

International schools are a melting pot of students from diverse backgrounds, abilities and ethnicities, and teachers are undoubtably faced with a challenge when having to impart high-quality teaching and learning to such a diverse student body.

To support cultural and linguistic diversity that are inherent to such schools, systems must provide teachers with resources and training that promote cultural sensitivity and inclusiveness in education. As part of our training at Qatar Foundation, we aim to equip teachers with the skills to actively engage with students from diverse backgrounds and understand different learning styles, ensuring an inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students.

Another element of the support we provide is towards teachers in our specialised education programmes like Renad Academy which is a school for students with autism. Teaching and non-teaching staff at Renad Academy must go through specific training to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to effectively meet the unique needs of their students.

Dealing with this group of students requires teachers to possess inherent qualities such as patience, attention and a sincere desire to provide psychological support. It is important that teachers have these qualities and are dedicated to building strong relationships with their students. Through targeted training, teachers learn about individual instruction, adaptive teaching techniques, and the use of assistive technologies, and this enables them to create inclusive classrooms and ensure the success of all students.

The Rasekh initiative, led by Qatar Foundation under PUE, aims to promote and support other schools in Qatar to offer a program that seeks to integrate global themes with local knowledge, innovation, Arabic language, values, heritage, and culture. The initiative’s mission is to provide high-quality education by linking global contexts with local resources and values thereby nurturing global citizens rooted in their national identity. The goal is to create a sustainable model of teaching and learning in collaboration with local institutions and industries.

Looking to the future

The key to unleashing the potential of the learners in our schools lies in the hands of our educators. They have the ability and the power to shape young minds, ignite their curiosity, and pave the way for a brighter future.

By providing teachers with adequate training and continuous professional development, schools can ensure their staff feel supported and well prepared to provide high-quality education across a spectrum of student capabilities. We believe that by nurturing the abilities and potential of every educator, they in turn reciprocate this to our students and help create a more inclusive and equitable society.

Abeer Al Khalifa
By Abeer Al Khalifa, Pre-University Education President (Qatar Foundation)

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Abeer joined PUE in 2011 as a Project Manager and launched Qatar Academy Sidra. Over the following decade, she established the National Programs department and enhanced Qatar Foundation Schools strategies to empower student learning through a continuous curriculum improvement process. Abeer led the Teaching Learning Center and the Educational Development Institute, providing consultation services and professional development programs for the education community.

Abeer holds an Executive MBA from in HEC Paris, with her research investigating differentiation and innovation in education services with the aim of maximizing added value. Her experience and education demonstrate the necessary skills to implement the QF and Pre-University Education vision moving forward.   

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