Griffith University farewells second group of emerging leaders in Saudi Arabian education

Dr Harry Kanasa with male participants

Griffith University’s second delivery of ‘Building Leadership for Change through School Immersion’ (BLCSI) has drawn to a conclusion, with participants and their families set to return home to Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks.

The ten month long program was designed and delivered by the Griffith English Language Institute (GELI), Griffith’s School of Education and Professional Studies (EPS) and Griffith’s International Business Development Unit (IBDU) for the Ministry of Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The course was tailor-made to prepare the 18 Saudi Arabian teachers for the application of best practice teaching methods upon their return to Saudi Arabia.

During their time in Australia, the Saudi educators were based at the largest of Griffith’s five campuses on the Gold Coast, where they lived with their families throughout the program.

A group of 2019 male BLCSI participants enjoying a day off on the Gold Coast.

The program consisted of 15 weeks of intensive English instruction, technical education professional development and 15 weeks of immersion in Australian public and private schools. Upon the school immersion phase of the program, participants were placed at numerous Queensland private and public schools to observe, as well as participate in, Australian classrooms. This allowed participants to gain hands-on experience with Australian curriculum, interact with Australian students and gain insight to a variety of innovative teaching practices.

Immersion in Queensland schools was a key feature of the program, providing the participants with the technical know-how, interpersonal capabilities and leadership skills that they will leverage to change not only their own practices but also the practices of their peers at their schools, directorates or at the system-level at large with the goal of transforming it into a learning-centred organisation.

2019 BLCSI participant Mohammed Alotaibi teaching during immersion at Coomera Anglican College

Participants graduated from the program on Friday 7 February where they presented their Capstone projects for reforming their teaching practice upon their return to Saudi Arabia. BLCSI participants from the University of Queensland attended the Griffith presentations in support of their Saudi peers.

The presentation, graduation and celebration was attended by key personnel from the Saudi Arabian Cultural Ministry representing the Ministry of Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Griffith University School of Education and Professional Studies Senior Lecturer Dr Kay Hartwig

Griffith University’s Vice President (Global) Professor Sarah Todd said Griffith University is delighted to have played a role in Saudi Arabia’s Building Leadership for Change through Immersion program (khebrat).

“Griffith is extremely proud to have been involved in the design, development and implementation of such a significant, long-term program. The 18 Saudi teachers, along with their families, took up the challenge, coming to Australia with open hearts and open minds and immersed themselves in the Australian culture and our education system,” said Professor Todd.

Griffith International Vice President (Global) Professor Sarah Todd presenting Cultural Attaché to Australia (SACM) Dr Hesham Khadawardi with a gift on behalf of Griffith University.

“They will return home having gained valuable insights and developed their own best-practice teaching and leadership strategies. It has been an honour for all those involved at Griffith to interact with the teachers and their families while they were with us. The opportunity to contribute to the ambitious plans for the reform of the Saudi education system as well as the personal and professional development of the participants has also had a significant impact on those who developed and implemented the program.”

“We look forward to following the progress of the teachers who spent time with us and the impact on their classroom practices into the future.”

Dr Harry Kanasa, Course Lead of 2019’s BLCSI program said: “My hopes are that this program serves to strengthen Saudi-Australia relations at the national and university levels, and that Griffith University has made genuine contributions to the development and enhancement of schooling in Saudi Arabia, as they seek to achieve the Saudi 2030 Vision of national transformation.”

Course Lead Dr Harry Kanasa delivering speech at Graduation Ceremony dressed in a traditional Saudi Arabian garment.

2019 BLCSI participant, Norah Alsegaihi, said she felt her skills as a teacher had been greatly developed by lectures and workshops presented by experts in the field of education at Griffith.

“During my immersion experience, I learnt about new technologies and the relationships between teachers, students, schools and parents,” Ms Alsegaihi said.

“After spending 11 months in Australia, I carry many memories in my heart that I believe will last forever in my life. I loved Gold Coast and don’t know how I’ll farewell this city with its beautiful beach, charming mountains and hot sun,” said Ms Alsegaihi.”