GE and AMIDEAST extend professional training for English teachers in the MENA region

4131GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of GE (NYSE: GE), which focuses its efforts in the areas of health, education, the environment and disaster relief, has joined hands with the American educational organization AMIDEAST, to offer the Professional Certificate in English Language Teaching (PCELT) program for English language teachers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Launched in 2012, the program is offered by AMIDEAST in partnership with the World Learning/SIT Graduate Institute and aims at raising the overall standards for teaching English in the region’s schools and universities by providing candidates with an innovative approach and curriculum that combines international best practices and topics relevant to the region.

The program has trained and certified 132 English language teachers in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Palestine (24 each) and Iraq and Morocco (18 each). These PCELT graduates come from over 43 locations in the MENA region, with approximately 90 per cent being public school teachers, from primary to university level, and representing a broad range of learner needs and realities. Additionally, 20 local trainers have also been part of the program, with 11 of them already licensed and the others soon to be fully qualified PCELT trainers.

Led by the success of PCELT, new opportunities for its expansion have emerged, including the launch of PCELT in Lebanon and Yemen. The GE-funded pilot program has also advanced AMIDEAST’s goal of offering PCELT throughout the region, building on the organization’s extensive experience in English language training and educator development. New courses following the pilot phase, through such funders as the U.S. Embassy, have resulted in an additional 102 teachers completing the program to date. As AMIDEAST offices build capacity to offer PCELT on a sustained basis, those numbers will continue to rise.

Theodore H. Kattouf, President and CEO of AMIDEAST, said: “English language skills are a gateway to academic, professional, and lifelong opportunities that would otherwise not be available to the vast majority of individuals. The PCELT program, made possible through a generous GE grant, represents a strategic direction for AMIDEAST in providing the region’s teachers with the right skills to further their students’ English language proficiency. The program clearly addresses the severe shortage of qualified English language speakers in the region.”

Nabil Habayeb, GE’s President & CEO for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, said: “The PCELT program is one of the key initiatives supported by GE in the MENA region, where we have been working with communities for over 80 years. One of our core commitments to the region is to further develop human capital, and create a talented pool of professionals. Through the PCELT program of AMIDEAST, we hope to expand opportunities for youth by strengthening their English language proficiency.”

The 120-hour PCELT program is based on an experiential approach in which participants observe, analyze, experiment with, and adapt a broad range of new teaching practices – continually linking these to their own students’ needs and contexts. PCELT’s practice teaching component gives them the opportunity to apply their developing skills daily to students in an authentic classroom. The participants are selected following a detailed process that involves recommendations by educational partners, an application with

writing samples, TOEFL scores, and interviews to measure attitudes towards professional development and commitment to the rigorous course.

The overwhelmingly positive response to PCELT by both teachers and trainers has been reinforced by graduates’ post-program experiences in leading workshops at their own schools, mentoring other English language teachers, attending professional conferences for the first time, creating online communities and, most importantly, improving the English language learning of their thousands of students. Many graduates have said that PCELT was a turning point in their lives as teachers.

Zeinab Deymi-Gheriani, a PCELT graduate in Tunisia, said: “PCELT has given me a clearer vision of what is going on in my classroom. Now, I have learnt to put my students at the heart of the learning process…I am really a different teacher now. I’ve learnt to step back, speak less, and give the students ample time to think and voice their ideas.”

In 2011, the GE family—including businesses, employees, retirees and the GE Foundation—contributed more than an estimated US$198 million to community and educational programs, of which more than US$100 million came from the GE Foundation.

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