In response to the Royal Directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to the Council of Oman in 2012, in which His Majesty laid out the requirements of future development and promotion of the education sector: “One of the priorities of the current stage and the next stage which we prepare for is to revise the educational policies, its plans and its programs, which need to be developed to keep pace with the changes the country is going through. More attention should be accorded to the requirements imposed by the scientific and cultural development towards building a generation armed with awareness, knowledge and the abilities required for worthwhile work.” In meeting these Royal Directives, the Education Council has, since its foundation, sought to adopt a number of educational projects and initiatives in the aim of developing the Sultanate’s educational system. Among those are the Project of the Document of the Philosophy of Education in the Sultanate of Oman and the National Strategy of Education in the Sultanate of Oman 2040, in cooperation with the competent authorities. Furthermore, the Council supervised the process of the drafting of both laws on school and higher education, as well as the development and implementation of the National System of Quality Management of Higher Education in the Sultanate of Oman, in addition to the projects of quality education currently being prepared by the Ministry of Education and other developmental projects, the implementation of which has already been started by education authorities in the Sultanate.
The following is a summary of the notable milestones achieved by the Education Council in 2016:
In 2016, the Education Council adopted a number of decisions in its meetings such as: approving the creation of the Teaching Excellence Award for Omani teachers and the establishment of Muscat University. The Council further approved the draft document of the Omani National Framework for the Teaching Profession which included the most prominent professional standards for the teacher post, as well as professional training, professional licenses, and the implementation mechanisms proposed for career advancements for teachers.
The Education Council’s Executive Committee’s activities included examining issues and submitting recommendations and proposals to the Council for discussion and approval. The Committee is composed of members from different bodies within the education sector. It held (15) meetings in 2016 and discussed many topics such as: the standards for enrolling in educational training programs at Sultan Qaboos University and other private universities, the Omani National Framework for the Teaching Profession, the project of the National Center for Educational Evaluation and Examinations and the distribution mechanism of internal delegations among private higher education institutions. The Committee also discussed the Higher Education Statistical System in the Sultanate, the report of the operational committee at the University of Bureimi, MoE’s proposal for departmentalizing scientific subjects starting from grade nine, the document of the National Framework for the Teaching Profession, the draft regulation on private schools, and the memorandum of the Oman Academic Accreditation Authority regarding the quality control of general constituent programs at higher education institutions. These documents and memos were submitted to the Council and appropriate decisions were made in this regard. The competent bodies were directed to begin implementation and the Council’s Secretariat General assigned to follow up and report periodically on the process of implementation.
A workshop entitled “The Outcomes of Research and Expertise in the Field of Development of Skills Related to Productive Jobs, and the Labor Market Design” was implemented by experts from the World Bank, in cooperation with the Secretariat General of the Education Council and the office of Studies and Research Adviser at Diwan of Royal Court, and was attended by a number of specialists representing government and private bodies in the education, planning and business sectors. The workshop presented the outcomes of research and expertise in the field of development of skills related to productive jobs and the design of the labor market on the international and GCC levels. The workshop highlighted the extent to which the Sultanate was able to benefit from these expertise in strategic planning, identifying priorities, challenges and ways to address them and shaping education policies aimed at harmonizing education with labor market needs and helping students in gaining the relevant skills for productive jobs.
In addition, the Council organized three-day preparatory workshops for the forum entitled “Education, Development Trends, and Current and Future Employment Opportunities in the Labor Market” in cooperation with a number of government and private bodies in the education, planning and business sectors in the Sultanate, and the participation of a number of experts and specialists. The forum sought to identify future trends in the sectors of development and services, as well as promising economic sectors, as part of the two five-year plans (ninth and tenth), highlighting the role of the education and training sector in meeting and monitoring these sectors’ needs in terms of human resources, academic and training specializations and required numbers of qualified national manpower in both public and private sectors. The forum also examined the challenges facing education and training outcomes in terms of employment in the private sectors as well as available solutions.
In 2016, the Council released a number of publications serving the Sultanate’s educational system: “The 2015 Annual Education Report,” which laid out the main projects and programs implemented in the education sector in 2015, providing some statistical education indictors, making it a reference for education policy-makers and decision-makers in terms of drafting future policies and making the right decisions based on education indicators and clear data. Moreover, the publication entitled “Education in the Sultanate of Oman: Local Indicators and International Comparisons” was released, bringing together the most prominent features of development in the process of education in the Sultanate, in school and higher education, for the period 2010-2015, through analysis and survey of a range of statistics and indicators that reflect the educational process. The publication covers topics sections like: Students, Human Resources, Efficiency, Scientific Research and Financial spending. A first of its kind publication, it serves as a guidebook for decision-makers in the education sector and a reference for specialists and others concerned to review the aspects of development in this sector, as well as the various relevant topics and issues.
In 2016, the Council launched its official website on the link www.educouncil.gov.om. The website provides an introduction to the Education Council and its functions, with the recent developments and various topics relevant to education. The website also presents the educational developments at the regional and international levels, in addition to announcing the latest news and local and international studies with regard to educational affairs in the Sultanate. The website, with the information it offers, targets several categories that include academics, teachers, students, parents, educational institutions, those concerned with educational affairs, as well as the rest of the community.
The Education Council, together with the Singapore Education Consulting Group, developed “The Consultative Study on the Stages and Paths of Education in the Sultanate of Oman.” It aims to reach a comprehensive vision to develop the structure of the education system in the Sultanate of Oman through determining the number of school years for each educational level, objectives to be achieved by the end of each level and the teaching plan for each level and grade. The study is also concerned with diversifying paths of post-basic education as well as providing diversified specializations at academic and technical higher education institutions in such a way that complies with the future trends of development and the labor market needs.
Visual presentations were also displayed at the Council’s Secretariat-General headquarter. These presentations covered an array of topics such as the experience of the Scientific Research Council in the Omani Network Scientific Research project, the Institute of Sharia Sciences Distance Education Program, and the Omani Authority for Partnership for Development initiatives. The Secretariat-General also hosted the Oman Centre for Governance and Sustainability and the Labor Union for the Education Sector who introduced their experiences. The meetings revolved around the aspects of cooperation to support the various fields of education, in addition to discussing several proposals and visions for the purpose of improving and developing the Sultanate’s education system.
In recognition of the role played by the National Youth Commission and the need for establishing channels of coordination and cooperation in different areas especially education, a meeting was held with the Chairman, vice-Chairman and secretary of the Commission. The meeting concluded with an agreement to hold a meeting with all the members of the Commission in order to introduce them to the efforts the Council is undertaking, as well as achieving maximum benefit from the capabilities of the members of the Commission and Omani qualifications to contribute ideas and visions for the development of the education process.
The Education Council shall forge ahead towards developing and improving the education system in the Sultanate in all of its levels and types. The Council also looks forward to implementing several developmental projects and programs in 2017 that would promote and improve the quality of the educational system. At the same time, the Council stresses the need for concerted efforts and positive contribution aimed at promoting the role of the educational sector. Furthermore, the Council hereby recognizes the role of Omani teachers and educational qualifications in all the educational institutions for their tangible efforts toward building Oman’s future generations and preparing them to be pioneers and contributors in the advancement of the development process in this country under the wise leadership of the founder of modern Oman, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.