24 March 09 | Chad W. Post

This post originally appeared at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair blog.

As mentioned earlier, in addition to copyright and piracy issues, the other main emphasis at the ADIBF is educational publishing. To this end, the fair organized a two-day “Education Chapter Conference” to provide publishers and educators with information about the changes and projects going on within the education sector.

Yesterday, Dr. Robert Thompson, head of special projects at the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) gave a presentation about all the various reform projects going on in Abu Dhabi related to curriculum change, teaching methods, and the creation (and restocking) of libraries.

All of these inititatives sound really promising, and are great opportunities for publishers, especially those publishing content-appropriate books in English. One of the key problems facing students entering the university–where classes are taught in English–is their command of the English language. In an attempt to address this, the ADEC is working with publishers to provide better resources to teachers, incluiding teacher training and better English and Arabic source materials. (I believe inititative like this is what brought Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation into existence.)

Another interesting–although also pretty depressing–part of his presentation was about the library situation in the region. When the ADEC went around to visit local libraries, they found loads of empty shelves, that is, in the libraries that weren’t locked up. To rehab this situation, ADEC is trying to fix 300-500 school libraries, restocking the shelves (with an average of 18-20 books per student!), making the library more accessible to the community, and including resources forr parents to help with the education process.

Another fantastic program to promote education and reading among young children (and which explains the heaps of excited kids wandering the halls of the fair) is the voucher program. Every year, His Highness Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahayn, who gives 4 million UAE Dirham (approx. $1.08 million USD) to local schools and colleges to provide vouchers to students to use on educational books at the fair.

The Educational Chapter wrapped up today with a number of presentations (the conference ran from 9am to 4:30pm), including “Looking to the Future: Developing Effective and Resourceful Learners” by Roy Leighton and “Q&A: The Neuroscience of Learning” by Dr. Andrew Curran, but it sounds like this will be a part of the ADIBF again in the future.

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