A number of educational reforms were initiated in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2006. Abu Dhabi spearheaded these reforms by setting up the Public Private Partnership (PPP) School Improvement Project in 2006. In cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), the Ministry of Education (MOE) engaged private education providers to share international best practices and improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools across the emirate of Abu Dhabi (Thorne, 2011).
In 2007, Dubai launched Madares Al Ghad (Schools of Tomorrow) in collaboration with the MOE, and forty- four schools across the Emirates were targeted for training, professional development, and reform (Farah & Ridge, 2009). The primary goal was a move from rote learning to learner-centered education by employing a new curriculum, assessment framework, and teaching methodology.
Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi assumed executive functions in Ras Al Khaimah in 2003. Part of his vision for developing the emirate was to boost the quality of higher education through cooperation with top American institutions. In collaboration with the MOE, the foundation he established, the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, supported a number of research and capacity development projects that explored the current state of education in Ras Al Khaimah schools. One of the projects involved creating a teachers network whereby teachers were taught how to use an online platform to openly discuss ways to improve teaching in the emirate.
In line with this initiative, international research has shown that teachers’ active support is of crucial importance if large-scale education reform is to be implemented effectively (Senge, 1999). For that reason, a detailed investigation of the teachers’ perceptions related to education reforms in Ras Al Khaimah is valuable and guides this study. This study was designed to provide insight into teachers’ views of the education reforms in schools in the Ras Al Khaimah Education Zone and includes an analysis of what they perceive would make the reforms more effective.
In Phase 1 of the study, 96 teachers from middle and secondary state girls’ schools were interviewed and surveyed about their beliefs regarding educational reforms in Ras Al Khaimah. Out of the teachers interviewed, 72 were Emirati and 24 were of non-Emirati Arab nationality. Based on the results from Phase 1, relevant themes were identified for further investigation in Phase 2.
The second phase used structured interviews to explore the views of a smaller sample of 20 teachers in greater depth. The results revealed a general consensus that the reforms were largely positive, but some of the teachers were critical of how they were being implemented. A thematic map outlining the issues raised by the teachers in relation to the reforms was produced, and recommendations were given to the Education Zone based on these findings.