Dr Naji Almahdi has forged many significant links between education and the labour market—both within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and beyond—that are vital for technical and vocational education. On 8 November 2016, Dr Almahdi will be speaking at a free event, the Higher Education Forum in Abu Dhabi, to talk about his work and how two of the IB’s programmes align with the national UAE educational framework. Here, he tells us about his role and how he has worked to help schools and communities in the UAE understand how the IB Diploma Programme aligns with the national framework for qualifications.
Tell us about yourself
I am the Chief Qualifications and Awards in Dubai at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority of the Emirate of Dubai. I oversee the quality of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in Dubai and ensure that TVET providers comply with the standards set out by KHDA and the National Qualifications Authority of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
I have been involved in education for many years, serving on numerous national and international committees for the development and implementation of TVET, and have a close relationship with many international awarding and accrediting bodies. I also gained a wealth of experience and knowledge about government, business and industry through my work with the Gulf Cooperation Council.
How does the UAE framework for qualifications work?
The national framework for qualifications was devised by the National Qualifications Authority so that the UAE remains internationally competitive, with a view to prioritising the development of skills, and improving the country’s wellbeing.
The framework goes from level 1 to 10. Each level represents the complexity of the qualification, from the most basic (Level 1) to most complex (Level 10 – equivalent to a doctorate). Every qualification, whether it has been developed in the UAE or overseas, is benchmarked to a level in the framework. Recently, the IB Diploma Programme (DP) was compared to the Level 4, which is the same as the UAE national requirement for completing secondary school education.
What process did you use to compare the DP to the Level 4 qualifications structure?
Many countries have a national framework for qualifications. The process to compare each qualification is based on determining the difficulty level. In the UK, the IB pathways (Diploma and Career-related Programmes) are aligned to level three. The equivalent in the UAE framework is Level 4; the same level that we have benchmarked for A Levels. We also look at the design of the qualifications, the volume of work students have to study, the quality assurance system and whether the assessment is at the appropriate level. Another important factor is graduates destinations and performance.
What does this development mean for IB World Schools in the UAE?
This development enables schools offering the IB programmes a way of describing the qualification, as well as providing a process for recognition. It also means it is much easier to see how one qualification compares to another when recruiting or selecting staff, and individuals can see what qualifications they need to progress in their job or community.
Education is a fundamental element for the development of the UAE and is part of our 2021 vision to be among the best countries in the world by 2021. For that reason, there is a significant emphasis placed on the development of a first-rate education system, and the IB is an intrinsic part of that.
Find out more and register for the free Higher Education Forum to hear Dr Naji Almahdi speak in person.