Posted on March 03, 2014

AlFaisal Without Borders (ALF) Foundation staged the first Qatar Schools Forum for its pilot Destination ImagiNation (DI) life skills initiative, which has been rolled out in seven schools in Qatar with 230 pupils taking part in 34 teams.

The Forum, at the Renaissance Doha City Center Hotel yesterday (Sunday), was a showcase for participating schools and pupils to explain how they believe the program has benefitted them and helped them to grow personally, socially and academically. The event took place in the presence of HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, HE Sheikh Mohammad Bin Faisal Al Thani, Deans of universities in Qatar, Heads of schools and 450 pupils, parents and teachers from schools across Doha. Seven teams, one from each participating school, performed live demonstrations of the program, displaying how they as a team take on a DI ‘challenge’, one of the essential tasks in the program that teaches essential life skills such as problem solving, creativity, teamwork and leadership.

Ali Ma’re, Executive Director of ALF Foundation, said: “We are delighted, in this pioneering year of introducing DI to Qatar, to have had such an enthusiastic uptake in the country with seven schools in Doha and more than 230 pupils and 34 teams taking part in the pilot. In addition, we have had serious interest from other schools wanting to participate in the program next year.

“The feedback from pupils, teachers and parents has been overwhelmingly positive and we are planning to roll this out not only across Qatar but also the region eventually.  We want all schoolchildren and students to be able to derive the life-changing benefits from ‘Destination ImagiNation’ (DI) through our Foundation’s support.”

AlFaisal Without Borders 2 [qatarisbooming.com].jpg

DI focuses on empowering young people by instilling and enhancing vital core 21st Century skills that can transform their chances in education, the workplace and even in later life. Students team up to work together in groups to solve challenges, helping to develop their self-esteem, confidence and communication skills to give them a head-start in life.

The programme, which has now been approved by the Supreme Education Council in Qatar, also instils a respect for other cultures and beliefs, while respecting the values of Islamic teaching in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the ALF Foundation’s ethos. Through supporting programmes like DI, ALF wants to promote Qatar as a regional innovator in progressive education, dedicated to arming young people with the right skills to succeed in today’s ever-changing world.

Schools from across Qatar were invited to hear first-hand from DI participants the benefits they have reaped and the skills they have developed from participating in such a life-changing program. Team members from each school enrolled in the program gave a live demonstration of meeting a DI challenge that they have to undertake in the program.

Mubarak Al Naimi, age nine, a year-four pupil at Gulf English School, said: ““In one word, the DI programme is about innovation. What I like about DI is that nobody helps you. You have to get the answers on your own and you have to think for yourself. It really hones your self-confidence.”

Al Maha Noor, 11, a year-six pupil at Gulf English School, said: I really love DI because there is team-work using creativity and you can participate with other people. It is a great chance to learn and to do things you have never done before.

“I would say to other people – take part in DI. You will experience fun like you have never experienced before in your life.”

Team Managers – teachers who give strategic advice to the groups and support them in their challenges – also reinforced the advantages of the initiative for Qatar’s young people.

Gina Barnes, a teacher at Gulf English School, said: “With DI the children have developed in their levels of self-esteem and self-confidence and they are integrating with the other cultures in our school. DI gives them also gives them added confidences to perform in front of others.

AlFaisal Without Borders 3 [qatarisbooming.com].jpg“All our children taking part are very excited about DI. They are so animated and it is a real privilege to be involved in this programme and to be one of the pioneering schools in Qatar.”

Abdullah Al Maraghi, from Omar Bin Al Khattab Educational Complex, which is a participating school, spoke of the program’s benefits to pupils. He said: “Through DI, our students are gaining positive skills. The impact is clear – they work themselves to find solutions to challenges and the programme has further nurtured their self-confidence as well as their creativity and work skills. I believe this will positively impact on our students for the rest of their lives.”

The seven schools piloting the program in Qatar are:

  • Amna bint Wahab Independent Preparatory School for Girls
  • The Gulf English School
  • Newton International Academy, Barwa City
  • Newton International School, Lagoon
  • Noble International School
  • Omar bin Al Khattab Independent Primary School for Boys
  • Park House English School

DI is an established youth initiative in 27 countries globally and the pilot in Qatar of this highly-effective and transformative program is a first for the Gulf region.

Under the patronage of Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al Thani’s Alf Foundation, the program presents the richness of Qatari culture and empowers the nation’s school children and students to set goals for the future and take control of their destiny through self-motivation.

Schoolchildren and students participate through their schools and the programme operates like an extra-curricular activity. Teams of up to seven people choose a challenge from five themes – technical, scientific, fine arts, improvisation and service learning. Over a period of around three months, the teams meet up weekly to work on their project and as a team come up with creative solutions to the challenges they are given.

Teams then compete to take part in the National Finals, which will take place at Gulf English School on 3rd May and teams which complete their challenges and score 75% or more, can qualify for the Global Finals in Nashville, Tennessee, USA in May 2014. There, they will compete with teams from around the world for the coveted first-place position.

Schools interested in participating in DI can contact Renee Rainville – +974 4498 1435, Extn 3605 or r.rainville@alfaisalfoundation.org.

How does it feel to fly with the best ?

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