Panel 8H

Towards an Appropriate Pedagogy in the United Arab Emirates: Local vs. International Educational Models

11.30 – 13.30
Chair: Sabrina DeTurk, Zayed University

The Migration of Educational Systems: Appropriation versus Assimilation

Dahlia Mahmoud, Zayed University

Throughout the Middle East, a dilemma under discussion in academia involves the practice of appropriating Western educational systems directly into local classrooms rather than ethically assimilating them through research and redesign. The latter, of course, is difficult and unlikely due to the time, effort and financial burden entailed by this approach. Direct implementation of Western curricula already occurs within the university systems of the GCC.  With the introduction of new subjects, such as design and technology, into the public school curricula, this will also be evident in K-12 classrooms. The perceived advantages of directly implementing Western curricular models into primary and secondary education in the region are an increased knowledge of English vocabulary and development of conceptual thinking skills.  However, it may be more beneficial and far less contrived if such curricula are implemented in a manner more sensitive to local community, language and culture.  To reshape the type of undergraduate students attending universities in the United Arab Emirates, the Ministry of Education in 2016 charged the committee for Design and Technology to work on curricula and strands for the new subjects to be taught in K -12 schools. The goal of the redesign is to increase the calibre of incoming university so that time spent on the development of English language and critical thinking skills could be redirected to innovative teaching and producing more outstanding joint faculty/undergraduate scholarly projects and results. This paper will discuss the process, advantages and disadvantages of this program and proposed plans ahead.

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Design Education in the UAE: Challenges and Opportunities

Mehdi Sabet, Zayed Univesity

The trend of offering higher education in design in the United Arab Emirates is a recent phenomenon. It is based on a fusion of western education and local cultural values, and has introduced unique challenges and opportunities for the stakeholders. Community engagement of students becomes a primary focus to prepare them to become productive citizens. The National universities try to engage both faculty and students with the present challenges of the country’s development at hand. As result, the quality of education is determined by the needs of the nation and the individual desire to fuse cultural values and design learning to become self-sustained citizens.  Fuelled by a relatively recent injection of great oil wealth, the UAE has witnessed an unprecedented population explosion and infrastructure development. During the 1970s and 1980s, the emphasis was on the importing of design ideas. However, the 1990s saw UAE architecture mature and a greater need for education of native design emerged. As a result, it has become incumbent upon the National institutions to cultivate bright Emiratis through rigorous fostering and embracing of creativity, starting with early foundation education in art and design.  In light of this shift away from reliance on external models and towards a development of local design talent, this paper addresses the importance of making the learning of design relevant to the contextual issues of social systems, the global issues of habitation and the professional issues of practice and business while acknowledging and respecting the local context.

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Cultural Heritage, Mobility and Pedagogy in the United Arab Emirates

Sarina Wakefield, Zayed University

The Gulf States have witnessed a proliferation of government funded museum and heritage developments. These new institutions have drawn largely on the expertise and knowledge of international museum and heritage practitioners in both the planning and delivery stages. Alongside these developments is a recognised need to ‘transfer’ international expertise to the Gulf, which connects with official mandates to develop knowledge based economies in the region. This has resulted in the development of museum and heritage based training at transplant and national universities in the form of undergraduate and post-graduate courses. In addition, professional training is provided by museum and heritage institutions by bringing ‘experts’ in?house to train national citizens. This raises a number of questions which relate to the ways in which ‘expertise’ and ‘knowledge building’ is used within the development of museum and heritage projects within the Gulf. Drawing on the author’s detailed ethnographic research this paper will seek to analyse how expertise is used to develop an ‘official heritage discourse’ (Smith, 2004, 2006; Harrison 2013) that is predominantly drawn from methods and processes that have emerged from Western-Europe. It will discuss how these processes are used within both the education sector and the professional practice of heritage, and how they affect the ways in which heritage is ‘valued’ and produced in the Gulf States. It will conclude by reflecting on the need to produce a discourse of grounded cultural knowledge development, which responds and accounts for the socio-specific context of museological and cultural heritage development in the Gulf States.