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What’s the new teacher licensing system called?

Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards (TELS UAE) and Licensing programme.

How can I apply for it?

For now, you can’t. The country’s education regulators – the National Qualifications Authority, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Abu Dhabi Education Council and the Ministry of Education – are just wrapping up a pilot phase of TELS UAE with a select number of teachers to work out bugs before launching it nationwide.

Is there anything I can do to prepare for it?

Yes, you can stay informed. While we’re still waiting to hear details on how TELS UAE will be applied in Abu Dhabi or in public schools in Dubai and the Northern Emirates governed by the Ministry of Education, we do have an idea of how it will work in Dubai’s private schools. The KHDA said that the first step for all private-school teachers will be to apply for a provisional teaching licence through schools. To qualify for the provisional licence, you have to have a job offer and signed contract with a private school in Dubai, provide police security clearance from Dubai Police and from the law enforcement authority of your home country, have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification and have legal status in the UAE.

Will I need classroom teaching experience?

Not if you want to work in a private school in Dubai. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in a subject in which there is a shortage of teachers, for example, you might be a fine candidate for one of the teaching positions, even if you don’t have experience, according to the KHDA. The provisional teaching licence will allow licencees to work as teachers under supervision and it is valid for between 12 and 18 months. In that time the KHDA expects you to enrol in an education training programme and prepared for the TELS UAE examinations. The NQA has also said that prospective teachers without prior teaching experience can qualify for a provisional licence.

What’s the TELS UAE examinations?

This is essentially the final stage of the licensing process. It is a series of four exams covering four professional teaching standards: professional and ethical conduct, professional knowledge, professional practice and professional development. Once you pass those four exams, you will be issued a “competent teacher status,” which is essentially your renewable UAE teaching licence that is valid for three years. School principals, vice principals and cluster managers will be issued different exams focused on school management and leadership.

When will this be launched?

Authorities have said they expect to roll out TELS UAE in stages at the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year nationwide. The goal is to have all teachers, cluster managers, principals and vice principals licensed – or enrolled for the licensing process – by the end of 2021. Here is what one official from Dubai’s KHDA had to say about it: “We can not licence all teachers in Dubai, about 20,000 teachers, in one year. It can’t be done. What we are going to do is we are going to put targets for schools and these targets are going to be let’s say mutually agreed upon with the schools.”

There are 20,000 teachers in Dubai? How many are there nationwide?

During the 2014-2015 academic year, there were 63,497 teachers working across the country in public and private schools, according to the KHDA. And that national number is climbing about 5 per cent annually.

What about the costs of licensing?

In Dubai, schools will be responsible for licensing their staff. It’s up to each school to decide on how they will do it. The school may pay for it, or may decide to transfer those fees to their staff. It will be up to individual schools to come up with cost-sharing agreements, if they choose to do so. As for how much it will cost, the authorities haven’t said yet.


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