With great foresight, vision and courage, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, directed that the Vocational Education Centre (VEDC) be established as a matter of urgency to provide an opportunity for young men who have disengaged from the formal education system. VEDC is a boarding institute that caters for Emiratis who have an interest in vocational studies rather than mainstream academic education, enabling them to become citizens who will play an active role in contributing to the UAE society and economy. Our programmes are industry-based and all our graduates are given assistance to find a job at the end of their programme. VEDC offers alternative learning pathways which focus on applied learning methods (hands-on learning) which are well integrated with a personal development programme that educates young men in self-discipline, work ethics and employability skills that enable them to keep on the right track for lifelong employment. The provision of education and training in VEDC is carried out in three Schools:

1. Foundation School;

2. Vocational Training School;

3. Leadership and Military Training School.

This school-within-a-school model enables VEDC to be partitioned into smaller educational units that plan and run their own programmes, have their own staff and students, and have their own dedicated school buildings on the VEDC site. A great deal of educational research has shown that this model greatly enhances student achievement and well-being, enabling a greater sense of ‘community’ and strengthening working relationships between students and staff.

At VEDC this model provides a further opportunity to define clear progression pathways through each school and into employment: students graduate from the Foundation School into the specialized school of their choice, graduating from here to full-time employment. There are 3 intakes of new students to VEDC every academic year, which occur at the start of each trimester in September, January and April. Entrants must fulfil the following requirements:

1. Have completed a minimum of Grade 6;

2. Be aged between 14 and 23 years of age;

3. Be a UAE National.

New entrants will follow an induction programme for 2 weeks that will enable them to become familiar with the nature of study at VEDC. Following this a streaming process will take place to ensure that students are placed in appropriate teaching groups in the Foundation School. Operating a trimesterbased intake allows more personalised learning pathways that are matched to students’ skills, knowledge and understanding. Subsequently, graduation from VEDC takes place in three cohorts per academic year, with a single graduation ceremony held in the summer trimester.

VEDC is a boarding institute and accommodates students and staff in purpose-built blocks on campus. Students are expected to share rooms, and on each floor rooms are grouped together with communal spaces for washing and recreation. A full dining service is provided with nutritionally balanced menu options in our dining facility. The dining facility is conveniently located within VEDC and it is available for both students and staff. Students also have access to a shop, where refreshments can be purchased, and a laundry. The Student Social Club provides a centre for students to meet, with an Internet Cafe, games room, cinema and majlis.The VEDC Sports Centre is also available in the evenings for structured sessions, with clubs and teams catering for a variety of sporting interests. There is also a swimming pool and multi-gym. The VEDC Learning Resource Centre (LRC) has a well-equipped library with books, newspapers and journals in both Arabic and English. It also contains a computer room with over 40 PC’s connected to the internet. All of these facilities are in use during the supervised extra-curricular programme that provides an additional 3 hours of personal development and learning time in the evenings. Transportation to the campus is provided by bus on a Saturday, with students returning home on this dedicated transport on Thursday afternoon. As in all cases on and off-site, students are expected to behave in a manner that is appropriate and conveys a positive image of VEDC to the community and our partners. Any cases of indiscipline will be treated very seriously and in line with the VEDC Discipline Policy (see overleaf).

Student Stipends
Students enrolled on VEDC courses receive a monthly stipend to encourage them to achieve. This figure is set at 2000AED per month, although students can be rewarded with a bonus for good attendance, academic performance or services to the community. Conversely, where attendance is poor students may receive a fine and therefore will not receive the full stipend for that calendar month. Student stipends are paid on a monthly basis directly into their nominated bank account.

Student Council
Student feedback is encouraged in order to further develop and refine the provision we offer at VEDC.The VEDC Student Council enables representation from every class in each school, and meets regularly so that feedback can be provided in a structured, formal manner. Each forum is facilitated and supervised by the Senior Co-ordinators, Student Counsellors and the Supervisor Student Affairs.

Extra Curricula Activities
In addition to the subjects studied during normal school duty hours, students are also provided with 3 hours of Extra Curricula Activities (ECA) on 4 nights of the week. These are based in locations outside the training schools. These activities are designed to enrich the formal curriculum, providing opportunities for students to ‘top-up’ their learning in areas such as reading in English and Arabic, Physical Education and Personal Development. Students are directed to undertake sessions on at least two evenings, and often choose to participate in more. Clearly defined and measurable learning outcomes are developed on an individual student basis, to target specific areas of identified need.