Educators may bring their families along on their journey, which allows their children to enrol in local schools. Not only do teachers get to experience what teaching is like in New Zealand, but that experience is deepened by having their own children involved as students within the same system.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is currently focused on diversifying its economy with more focus on highly skilled jobs, moving away from their reliance on oil production. As education is regarded as a key driver of economic and human development, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Education has been sending hundreds of teachers across the globe to experience other cultures and, in turn, refining their teaching and English language skills. The hope is to create global-thinking citizens who can share their new teaching and learning experiences with their students once they return home.
Khebrat—the name of this international teaching programme—translates to ‘experience’ and is just one part of a major initiative by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Education to transform the Saudi education system. The new economy envisaged by the Kingdom requires a variety of roles to be filled—including scientists, engineers, economists, and lawyers. They recognise the need to nurture critical, independent thinkers and require teachers to foster these skills in the students that will eventually fill these roles.
Wellington UniVentures assisted Victoria University of Wellington to secure a contract with the Khebrat programme. This included developing the proposal and associated financials, and liaising between various groups involved. The contract brought 20 Saudi Arabian teachers and principals to take part in a year-long programme focused around building leadership capabilities and English proficiency. It involved Saudi teachers working alongside Kiwi teachers based in Wellington, allowing them to observe classroom practices in action.
This programme is not about having another country adopt New Zealand teaching methods, but rather promoting critical thinking about their own teaching practice. This works both ways as New Zealand-based teachers involved in delivering the programme get to see a different side to teaching and are encouraged to question their own practices.
Features and benefits
Varied learning opportunities
The programme is varied, from intensive English language courses and lectures, through to classroom immersion alongside New Zealand teachers, and projects to complete with the guidance of assigned mentors.
New world view
Saudi Arabia is sending hundreds of teachers out of its country to be part of this experience. The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand are some of the countries involved with this programme. By including so many different countries with different teaching practices, Saudi teachers return with a wealth of knowledge to share.
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education’s plan is to run the Khebrat programme over five years, and it is currently in its third year, with Wellington UniVentures having been involved since the second year. The school immersion phase of the most recent cohort had to be cut short due to the COVID-19 lockdown measures in March 2020. The good news was that the participating Saudi teachers were able to continue their projects online with the help of their assigned New Zealand mentors and experience another method of digital learning themselves.
Victoria University of Wellington hopes to continue its participation in this valuable programme during its final years, helping educators of Saudi Arabia drive their education system forward.
To find out more about the Khebrat Programme, or professional development for teachers, please contact one of our team below.