The UAE Ministry of Education has signed a seven-year deal with the American company McGraw-Hill Education to procure all K-12 maths and science instructional materials in e-book and print formats.
The Ministry has decided for now to deliver the content to its schools in print format, which will be published by the government printing press.
The Ministry might, in the future, decide to deliver it in digital format as well, said David Levin, the president and chief executive of McGraw-Hill Education. About 20 per cent of the content will be updated every year.
“This is the first time in the world that we have entered into such an arrangement, and is in a way saying that we are anticipating change [in the way content is delivered],” he said. “We are confident this is the most rigorous [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] curriculum and that private schools in the UAE and across the region would want to adopt it.”
He declined to put a cost on developing the software and the content. In August, McGraw-Hill delivered content in Arabic and English for the 2016-17 academic year.
“Over time, the colloquial usage of the Arabic will change [in science and maths education], and so the language is going to improve and get updated each semester,” he said.
The content is based on US standards and aligned with the UAE National Standard Framework.
Despite falling spending by the Government this year, the largest share of the Dh48.55 billion federal budget, 21.2 per cent, was allocated to the education sector.
In the 2014-15 academic year, the country had 1,215 schools, including 542 state schools, said the consultancy Colliers International; 471,983 pupils were enrolled in state schools, which had 29,690 academic and administrative staff.
“Our economic growth depends on investing in education to build a knowledge-based society,” said Hussain Al Hammadi, the UAE Minister of Education. “[Our] productivity and competitiveness will come to rival the best in the world, as we provide students with the skill set to bridge the gap in industries such as the sciences, medical and aerospace.”
Three years ago, McGraw-Hill Education started supplying ALEKS, digital content in maths through a personalised learning pathway, online tutoring and assessment programmes, to universities in the UAE, including Higher Colleges of Technology, Khalifa University and UAE University.
The UAE was placed 45th among 76 countries in last year’s Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development global school rankings. The list, the first global ranking by the OECD, was based on maths and science test scores among 15-year-old pupils.
The report said that if every student in that age group in a country achieved at least the baseline level of competence by 2030, the economic benefits to that country would be “enormous”.
McGraw-Hill Education has had a presence in the UAE through its Dubai office since 2009.
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