The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) will collaborate with New Zealand’s Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand to develop an enhanced version of its Bachelor degree programme in Early Childhood Education, after the two organizations signed a virtual Memorandum of Understanding.
Dr Abdullatif Al Shamsi, HCT President and CEO, and Kathy Wolfe, Chief Executive at Te Rito Maioha, signed the MoU in a virtual ceremony held in the attendance of His Excellency Matthew Hawkins, the New Zealand Ambassador to the UAE, and representatives of both parties.
The agreement comes about in light of the globally recognized importance of early years’ education (0-8 years) and its significant impact on a child’s cognitive development. Te Rito Maioha is a recognized leader in bicultural, bilingual initial teacher education, and is committed to early childhood education at the global level, through the development of the teachers and services at that level.
Under the terms of the MoU, the parties will collaborate in the areas of student exchange and applied research projects in early childhood education topics, including participation in the 4th HCT Education Student Research Conference in Al Ain, to be held on April 20, 2021. In addition, the institutions will invest in distance learning technologies, and a faculty exchange program, including virtual and in-person guest lectures, will be implemented to boost professional development opportunities.
It will also see the development of specific online learning courses, with an initial focus on digital fluency. Additional focus will be on curriculum collaboration and development, specifically on the areas of culture, language and identity and how these can be embedded in the Bachelor program.
Dr Abdullatif Al Shamsi stressed the importance of this collaboration with Te Rito Maioha, which is specialized in delivering undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate qualifications in early childhood teacher education and leadership.
Kathy Wolfe said that Te Rito Maioha was excited and honored about this collaboration and proud they could forge this relationship. “We have a lot to offer and share in terms of our expertise in early childhood education. In addition, Te Rito Maioha as an organisation will achieve a greater understanding of culture, language and identity in the United Arab Emirates, which can only benefit the students and children,” said Mrs Wolfe
“Due to the significance of early childhood education, and its effect on children’s behavioral and cognitive development, this collaboration aims to enhance the skills and competencies of HCT Education students majoring in Early Childhood education; introduce them to the best practices in the field, and strengthen their research experience in early childhood education,” Dr Al Shamsi said.
Te Rito Maioha has proven experience in blended learning delivery, dependent on both field-based and online learning, which is closely aligned to HCT’s hybrid learning system, which combines on-campus and distance learning.
“Over the last few years, Te Rito Maioha has invested significantly to ensure we can deliver high-quality tertiary education online. This approach has really paid off through the challenges presented by Covid-19. We have been able to be agile in our delivery, continuing to stay connected with our students without any disruption to their learning” said Mrs Wolfe
“This collaboration will further enable both parties to invest in their distance learning technological abilities and resources, to ensure maximum benefit and exchange experiences through faculty exchanges, collaborative research, professional development and guest lecturing, both virtually and in-person,” said Dr Al Shamsi.
He noted that the collaboration supports the HCT strategy aimed at preparing technical leaders, by enhancing students’ professional skills and enabling them to earn professional certificates from renowned international awarding bodies.
Moreover, Dr Al Shamsi said the agreement bolsters HCT’s aims to continuously build its international capacities and agenda, as a leading applied higher educational institution. He noted this will be achieved by a multi-faceted approach including, establishing and facilitating collaborative partnerships with international academic organizations and institutions; building opportunities for international student mobility; meeting international benchmarks, best practice and accreditation standards; and supporting academic and applied research-related collaboration initiatives.
Kathy Wolfe noted the importance of international education linkages, not just to Te Rito Maioha, but to New Zealand as a whole. Developing partnerships with overseas institutions increases strong research connections and enduring economic, social and cultural outcomes for our international students.
During his participation in the virtual signing ceremony New Zealand Ambassador Matthew Hawkins expressed his support for this initiative, noting the high levels of cooperation between New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.
“The UAE is fast becoming an important partner for New Zealand. The UAE is our tenth largest trading partner, our hub for doing business in the region, and up to 5,000 New Zealanders live, work and raise their families in the UAE. In addition to the many New Zealand educators and teachers who have contributed here over the years, we now look forward to expanding cooperation in early childhood education.
“The UAE has demonstrated its expertise in providing distant learning frameworks and support for UAE education providers during the COVID19 pandemic and New Zealand ranks third in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Educating for the Future Index 2018. We therefore have much to learn from each other through this MOU,” said Mr Hawkins.