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Kuwaiti educators attend curriculum development training at Wisconsin Technical College.

In an effort to improve education and training in Kuwait and other gulf countries, 10 officials from Kuwait's Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET) attended a curriculum-design workshop offered by the Worldwide Instructional Design System (WIDS) at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wis., January 19-28.

WIDS is a nonprofit division of the Wisconsin Technical College System Foundation Inc. that provides curriculum-design software, training and consulting services to facilitate the process of course and program development at colleges, businesses and other organizations worldwide.

"The WIDS training will bring key officials of the PAAET Curriculum Development Center (CDC) up to date on the latest in curriculum-design systems," says Ross Amerie, president of the American International Development Council (AIDC), Inc. Once trained, the attendees will work to introduce WIDS into Kuwait's career and technical education system. Finally, they will work to disseminate the WIDS system as consultants throughout other gulf nations, including Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the other Arab-speaking nations.

Engaged in international education for 23 years, the AIDC has served as a consultant to the PAAET since 1990. A division of Kuwait's Ministry of Education, the PAAET is responsible for all technical and vocational training in Kuwait, according to Amerie.

"The AIDC has worked on and off in Kuwait since the end of the Desert Storm War and arrived there to assist in the education sector even whilst the oil rigs set afire by Saddam Hussein were still burning," he says.

Since 1990, the AIDC has worked to help rebuild Kuwait's education system, including four colleges and seven training centers, by developing organizational studies, strategic plans, job descriptions, policies, procedures and assessment systems.

"The Iraqi Bathists had stripped the colleges of everything moveable, even tiles, light switches and fixtures," notes Amerie. "This necessitated a huge refurbishment and was like starting the system again from scratch."

AIDC's most recent focus in Kuwait has been on curriculum development, according to Amerie. "We researched available curriculum design systems and decided WIDS was the most advanced," he says.

As a result, AIDC recommended WIDS to PAAET top management. The workshop walked PAAET attendees through the process of using WIDS software to design customized, learner-centered courses of study. It also trained them to hold their own WIDS workshops for colleagues once they returned home.

Prior to the workshop, WIDS Associate Director-Consulting Wayne Meier explained, "They will go through our full complement of workshops and will be awarded appropriate certification upon successful completion of the training. We will also work with them on the development of their own curriculum projects that they bring along."

Additionally, the Kuwaiti trainees learned updated curricula developments driven by DACUM (Developing A Curriculum) occupational analysis information. DACUM is a widely used method of analyzing an occupation, according to Robin Soine, WIDS associate director-client relations. "It's a way to graphically picture an occupation in terms of duties, tasks, knowledge, skills, traits and attitudes," she says.

WIDS software links this occupational analysis information to curriculum design--meaning career and technical education reflects workplace skills. "It allows users to build a curriculum driven by occupational analysis information," adds Soine. "It also saves users time, because curriculum elements are stored together in the same location electronically."

The PAAET officials who attended the workshop were previously trained to gather DACUM data in Canada and the United States, according to Amerie. Learning how to build a learner-centered curriculum based on that information is the next step in their curriculum development training.

The PAAET officials will work with teachers from Kuwait's career and technical education system to create courses and programs specific to the needs of individual industries, including the country's largest--petroleum: The new curricula, written in Arabic, will be implemented system wide, offering consistency and quality, according to Amerie.

Through improved education, the PAAET hopes to begin to replace the country's large population of foreign workers with Kuwaiti natives. Of the 2.2 million people who live in Kuwait, more than 600,000 are foreigners, says Amerie. Through education and training, PAAET plans to develop nationally based manpower, which he notes only accounts for 19.5 percent of the Kuwait workforce. In doing so, PAAET will better meet Kuwait's human resource needs and increase the number of employable Kuwaltis.

To find out more about WIDS, visit www.wids.org or call 800-677-9437. For information about PAAET, visit www.kuwait-info.com/sidepages/ edu_appliededu.asp.
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Title Annotation:Front and Center
Publication:Techniques
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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