Superintendent, Arab International Academy (AIA)
In 2016, we founded AIA as an IB school and from day one we started implementing the different IB programs including primary years, middle years, and diploma programs. We have three buildings, one for each of the three different sections. One is for the early childhood from three to five years, where children learn in both Arabic and English equally. Then, we have a building for the primary years, where we have two tracks depending on the primary language, English or Arabic. We are keen to focus on the mother tongue, as children learn best in their respective native languages. Our students come from different backgrounds as it is the case with Qatar’s population. We have over 20 nationalities in the school and have a solid percentage of Qatari students at around 20%. The majority of our students come from Arab nationalities because of the fact that we are focusing on the Arabic language as a main language of instruction. We also have something unique from other IB schools, which is the Arabic track at the primary section, where the main language of instruction is Arabic for those who choose to do that. No other school is implementing such a strategy although the IB Organization encourages schools to use the native languages. However, most IB schools in Arab countries implement the program using non-native languages such as English or French. We believe this affects learning in early years.
Dean, Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar)
UCQ was advancing planning for growth in our current programs as well as new programs. We were planning a master’s degree revision and aimed to increase our student numbers by reaching over 800 students by 2023. Like other institutions in Qatar, COVID-19 impacted our budget and programs, though we surpassed our revised enrollment target by 6%. We are extremely excited about our new four-year regular track program and continue to educate and support our current post diploma baccalaureate and masters in nursing students. COVID-19 has also resulted not only looking at teaching and learning but also applying best practices in our facility and assuring alignment with ministry guidelines. Today, every student attending laboratories, or undergoing practical upskilling experiences, is being taught in an environment that fully meets COVID-19 restrictions. The pandemic, while challenging, has resulted in innovation in course development and delivery. It has resulted in innovative theory and clinical experiences to support activities such as vaccination and triaging. Our partners have helped ensure we are not paralyzed by the crisis. We are learning and accommodating together. For example, our faculty volunteered with the Ministry of Public Health and Primary Health Care Corporation to assist in their efforts to fight COVID-19. For UCQ, blended approaches of teaching and learning is the way forward. This coupled with innovation, evidence, and commitment is a recipe for excellence in nursing education.
Dean, Deborah White
We are fundamentally a school of design and the arts, so the highlight has been seeing the amount of investment and interest in cultural activities and cultural production in the country. We recognize the important role our institution has in the achievement of the National Vision and we continue to be among the driving forces of social and cultural development in Qatar. The majority of our programs are studio-based and rooted in creative practice, and seeing where that connects to some of the national initiatives in Qatar is important. Likewise, our art history department is well connected with museums and other cultural institutions in Qatar. We have an increasing focus on the intersection between the arts and technology, so it was also interesting to see how we could support the country in this area of development. Then, COVID-19 occurred. Beyond ensuring that members of our community are healthy and safe, communication was an important aspect of our response—being informed and staying connected was crucial. We have also done a series of projects that contributed to the collective response to COVID-19. For example, our digital fabrication lab fabricated laser-cut face shields, and our fashion design department designed and helped produce vests for Ministry of Public Health volunteers. Although we are still dealing with an uncertain and highly stressful situation in terms of operating under these circumstances, there will undoubtedly be positive outcomes. The pandemic has forced all of us to reevaluate how we do things.
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