It will be implemented as a trial in around 70 schools in the UAE.
The UAE is set to roll out a standardised test to assess moral education nationwide, making it the first country to quantify how schools fare in shaping students’ values.
Senior officials behind the UAE Moral Education Programme introduced the Moral Education Standardised Assessment (Mesa) during the Middle East and Africa Association of Test Publishers (MEA-ATP) conference, which was held in Abu Dhabi from January 28 to 30.
Mesa will be implemented as a trial in around 70 schools in the UAE, covering 10,000 students from Grades 3,5,7 and 9. Pupils will be taking the computer-based test that combines knowledge recall and situational judgement questions.
“We are proud to be the first country in the world to implement a standardised evaluation system for moral education.
“Delivering assessment on a par with the world’s top international standardised tests, Mesa uses the latest advancements in psychometric testing and analysis to measure students’ understanding of the material and the curriculum’s effectiveness in changing their perceptions and behaviour,” said Mohammed Al Neaimi, director of the Education Affairs Office at the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, the body that oversees the UAE Moral Education Programme.
Rather than measuring pupils’ individual performance, Mesa aims to assess the impact of the programme in an independent, standardised manner – the results of which can be used to compare schools and curriculums, generate best practices, and map out necessary improvements.
It also looks into students’ knowledge, understanding and awareness of the importance of character and values.
“Quantifying the effectiveness of a curriculum of this kind presents challenges, especially when attempting to measure the attainment of good character and values among students. By introducing Mesa, the UAE Moral Education Programme has devised a solution which allows an understanding of the beneficial impact of the initiative on young people,” Al Neaimi said.
The team has partnered with internationally renowned testing organisation ACT Inc., which is known for the standardised exams it has designed for two million high school students applying for higher education in the US. ACT’s local partner, ConnecME Education, has developed Mesa specifically for UAE schools.
Ahmed Fikri, from the Office of Strategic Affairs for the Crown Prince’s Court, said: “Mesa works as a policy tool, providing a wide spectrum of accurate data and objective information to monitor the programme’s success.”
“Mixed with the feedback we receive from educators, we are able to use the results to adjust the course, address emerging deviations, and devise ways to strengthen the delivery of moral education in schools,” Fikri said.
Talking about the partnership, Suzana Delanghe, chief commercial officer of ACT, said: “Together with our partners, our teams will create a world-class assessment that measures student readiness, so teachers can more effectively foster the shared cultural values across the UAE’s diverse communities.”
The UAE Moral Education Programme was fully implemented across the country in September 2017. The Education Affairs Office at the Crown Prince Court monitors the programme’s progress through school visits, national surveys, and annual events with educators, among others.
Creating good human beings
By introducing a standardised assessment for moral education, the UAE has taken the teaching of ethics to another level. Honest, healthy, patriotic, sincere and hardworking residents are an asset for any nation and its development, and it is these qualities that make man a good social being. When schools are supposed to be holistic institutions, it is expected of them to impart moral values explicitly or implicitly.