Himansu talks about improving the quality of education in Oman

Interview-1

A’soud Global School (AGS) Muscat will open in September 2016, admitting pupils from Pre-KG to Grade 6, and in the successive years will grow to an Upper Prep and Senior School preparing students for iGCSEs and A-Levels. OER speaks to Himansu Mohapatra, Member of the Board, English Education Management Company, about how the school is going to be a significant step towards improving the quality of education in Oman.

Can you give a brief background about English Education Management Company (EEMC) and the upcoming A’Soud Global School project in Oman?

Muscat Overseas Group forayed into primary and secondary education segment in UAE through Al Najah Education platform in early 2013. The company developed a strong base of highly trained staff, better infrastructure conceptualisation and improved education delivery system to develop global citizens.

In an attempt to bring these capabilities to Oman, The English Education Management Company (EEMC) was set up in early 2015 as a joint venture between Al Tamman Holding, a Muscat Overseas Group Company and Al Najah Education. Our partner, Al Najah encompasses the full education spectrum across four verticals – pre-primary, primary & secondary, tertiary and continuing education. It manages 26 institutions in different countries.

The mission of EEMC is to provide end-to-end education solution and consultancy and impart quality education and training as an effort to nation building.

The first venture of EEMC was Horizon Kids International Nursery located in Al Mouj, Muscat. It is a state-of-the-art infrastructure with well-trained and qualified staffs to cater to all the learning and development needs of children. With the success of Horizon International Nursery, the EEMC ventured into A’Soud Global School, (AGS) Muscat as the First K12 school
in Oman.

How is AGS going to be unique from other international schools in Oman?

AGS Muscat will offer its pupils a vibrant and challenging learning environment, with a distinctive British independent school style, that reflects the values and dynamic culture of the Sultanate of Oman. With a team of highly experienced British, International and Arabic teaching and support staff, the school will develop independent and enquiring minds, aiming to turn out young men and women with the capability to achieve their aspirations – both academically and morally. This will ultimately enable our pupils to respond to the rapidly changing world in which they will pursue further study and work.

AGS has a distinct advantage of being part of an education platform with a large pool of trained and qualified teachers, which will enhance knowledge sharing, good governance and academic excellence.

Located next to the Seeb Souq in a purpose-built campus, AGS Muscat will educate pupils aged 3-18 years within state-of-the-art facilities including spacious and stimulating classrooms, outdoor multi-games courts, swimming and splash pools, football pitch, indoor multi-purpose sports hall, library, ICT room, music room, art and drama room and laboratories.

What is unique about curriculum and teaching methods?

We have a strong commitment to provide holistic education to Omani nationals and expatriates.

The British independent school model of Pre-Prep (3-7 years old); Prep (7-13 years old) and Senior (13-18 years old) is something that appeals to parents because it is clear how the school’s curriculum will adapt to different stages of a pupil’s development. Our teachers are all qualified to British standards and also understand the international context of the school. We want the same high expectations of a British independent school but we also want to celebrate Omani culture, Arabic language and Islamic faith in order to educate and prepare our young people for an international life. That means we have a strong emphasis on moral and ethical values, good manners, self-discipline and confidence, as well as academic achievement. Learning outside of the classroom – on the sports field or at one of our wide choice of extra-curricular activities – will be equally important as the teacher inspired activities in the classroom.

In addition, there is a great demand for British-style education delivered in an international context. The involvement of parents in the education process is critically important to successful learning. AGS Muscat will have an open and transparent dialogue with all parents to help them monitor progress of their children and gain the most out of the school experience. We know that pupils must have good IT skills, but they must also know the basics of language and number. We will use the latest progressive assessment techniques to ensure that every pupil is making the progress expected of them in English and Mathematics and that we are providing the highest quality of education for all pupils, including those with special needs.

What is the total investment of the project, including infrastructure costs and soft expenditures?And when it is expected to be open?

The total investment of the project would be around RO8.5mn. The school is in the final stages of construction and will be open in September as planned. The classes would be open in all year groups up to Year 6.

Why do you think it is the right time to invest on an educational institution of this stature in Oman?

Oman needs more schools as the demographics suggests; and there is a growing trend of students shifting from public schools to private schools, looking for state-of-the-art infrastructure, high-quality teaching staff, better curriculum and high teaching standards. But the number of such schools are very limited in the country; hence there is a real need of more International standard schools in Oman. This is the right time to investment in building social infrastructure and enhancing the economic activities for the country. Education is a defensive sector, which gives stable cash flow and earnings.

And how is AGS going to contribute towards improving the quality of education in Oman?

As AGS is committed to provide high-standard education, other private schools will have peer pressure to improve the quality level to sustain in the market. Secondly, we are also planning to develop teachers training programmes under EEMC which will supply trained quality teachers not only to AGS Muscat but also to other schools in Oman.

Do you have plans to opens similar schools in other parts of Oman and when are they expected to open?

We have signed an agreement with Duqm authority to start an international school in Duqum and this will be developed in two phases. Pre-primary and primary section of the school is expected to open in September 2018. We have planned to set up another International School in Salalah.


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