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Island centre offers residents a host of opportunities

posted on 01/08/2009: 1911 views



Before the Desert Islands Education Centre was set up about 500 Emiratis living on Delma Island were unemployed due to not completing their education or because of their poor English skills. A year ago, the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), in its aim to redefine tourism across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, decided to develop a multitude of opportunities for the desert island residents, and invested in diverse projects, one of which included the Desert Islands Education Centre (DIEC) located on Delma Island.

The DIEC (which is funded by Abu Dhabi Government), is the first and only vocational training centre in the Western Region that has been developed to facilitate contact between students and employers on and off the islands, while assisting students to enter university or employ as many residents as possible.

The courses offered include English, computer studies, business writing, communication skills, task planning, time management, professional work values, office organising, decision-making and problem solving, fundamentals of customer service, presentation skills, administrative assistant skills, career planning and job searches.

Students are offered seven International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) modules as well as English accreditation such as IETLS, TOEFL, PET - internationally accredited English certifications; extra English accreditation courses from beginner to advanced levels; accreditation testing which is conducted on special sites off the island; work placement preparation and certificates of completion.

Development is under way to partner with a reputable English-based organisation so accredited programmes can be offered in areas such as travel, tourism and hospitality.

Raisa Esmail, 23, is married with a son. She was born and raised on Delma Island and took a three-year diploma at Al Ain Women's Higher Colleges of Technology, but had to return to Delma.

"I didn't know a single word of English till I decided to take English language courses," said Raisa, who now speaks English fluently after spending nine months at DIEC and is currently an IDCL teacher for 16 female students at DIEC.

One of Raisa's students, Shaikha Mohammad Al Ali, 22, said that her parents encouraged her to take courses at DIEC.

"I've been taking courses here for ten months and hope to become a teacher. I would never leave Delma, it's such a relaxing, quiet, beautiful and safe place, people are kind here, and there is a future for us," said Shaikha, in an almost faultless English accent.

Wasim Munla, Centre Head of DIEC has been in Delma just under two years.

"We currently have four public schools and a kindergarten in Delma and felt it was vital to help employ residents living here. Our second phase for the centre [after Ramadan] will include courses in travel, tourism, hospitality and business studies; and will be customising our courses to fit the UAE region," said Munla.

The majority of Emiratis arriving at the centre were unemployed, especially married women, partly due to limited vacancies on the small island of Delma, but that is slowly but surely changing. – Gulf News

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