Interview - Maliha Ahad


AIM Middle East provides training and consultancy on the International Preschool Curriculum (IPC) in the region. Little Smarties Preschool in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has just become the country’s first IPC pre-school.

AIM Middle East provides training and consultancy on the International Preschool Curriculum (IPC) in the region. Little Smarties Preschool in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has just become the country’s first IPC pre-school.

How is IPC’s Middle East arm connected to the main organisation?

Headquartered in Florida, the IPC is dedicated to raising world standards in pre-school education and better preparing children for primary and elementary schooling. The curriculum is based on concepts including play, enquiry and objective-based learning.

IPC encourages member schools to offer bilingual learning, and the curriculum is also available in Spanish, French and Chinese. It also encourages local cultural traditions and promotes internationalism.

What are the aims of your organisation in Saudi Arabia?

Our goal in the region is to raise awareness for ‘quality’ early childhood education. We partnered with IPC because it has created the best international curriculum and benchmarks well against the National Association for the Education of Young Children, EYFS and Common Core standards. We believe, along with a superior curriculum, that training of early years educators is also essential. We are committed to this goal and have recently launched a comprehensive range of early childhood training programs in UAE, with plans for a regional roll-out over the next 18 months. Saudi Arabia has one of the lowest net enrolment rates at less than 10 per cent. UN agencies and the government are trying to raise awareness; however, the private sector needs to take an active role.

Do the children have a particular background?

Schools in Saudi Arabia largely constitute Saudi nationals, whose first language is Arabic. At Little Smarties, the teachers are all bilingual and the curriculum is taught in both English and Arabic. Children studying in IPC schools in the UAE, Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia come from diverse backgrounds.

How was Little Smarties set up?

Little Smarties was set up in 2006 and has been growing in reputation and size since then. It is run by a dynamic duo of Saudi ladies, who are committed to providing the best early childhood education. They are looking to expand to a new location.

What have been the challenges/achievements?

In order for us to achieve our goals of providing quality early childhood education in all our schools, we strive to work with school owners that are committed to all the factors that make up a quality early childhood education – this includes the physical environment, curriculum and the teaching staff. Ensuring this like-mindedness takes time and effort. The positive aspect is that we are growing in the region, both in numbers as well as in awareness.

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