Sheikh Hamdan award winners recall inspiring moments

Sheikh Hamdan presents awards for distinguished academic performance to Mir Faraz (left) and Mishal Faraz (right). — Supplied photos
Sheikh Hamdan presents awards for distinguished academic performance to Mir Faraz (left) and Mishal Faraz (right). — Supplied photos

Dubai - The Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance is an international honour in the area of education

By Saman Haziq

Published: Thu 25 Mar 2021, 8:25 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Mar 2021, 9:26 PM

Students and academicians paid rich tributes to late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum while recognising his pivotal role in making UAE education world class.

The educational fraternity said the Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance had raised the bar for education and health in the country by instituting a number of awards in the two sectors.

Among the hundreds of students who received the popular ‘Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance’ from the hand of the late leader were brother-sister duo Mishal and Mir Faraz, who couldn’t help but break down on the news of his demise. While 10-year-old Mir won the award once in 2019, his sister Mishal, 14, received the award twice — in 2017 and 2021.

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One of the personal initiatives in the field of education from the late Sheikh Hamdan, the award established in 1998 has become a leading international honour in the area of education, creativity and innovation, especially following the launch of the Unesco-Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Prize.

Mir said: “This award is testimony to His Highness’s commitment to education, to excellence and inspiring the young generation to reach for the stars. In fact, I’ve learnt the true meaning of excellence by partaking in this initiative. Since the award criteria includes aspects like academic excellence, talents, hobbies, leadership skills, commitment to community and the environment and a lot more, it really helps students strive to become best versions of themselves.”

Every year, hundreds of students apply for this coveted award that includes two rounds for the qualifying criteria — shortlisting of candidates who then have to face interviews.

Calling it a precious memory, his sister Mishal said: “It is not just an award rather it is a blueprint to become a distinguished student as well as a better human being. This award is testimony to His Highness’s commitment to education, to excellence. Through this award, the late Sheikh Hamdan has taught us to dream big and believe in ourselves.”

Reminiscing the time when she met the royal in 2019 as he handed her the certificate for the award, Mishal said: “The biggest perk of winning the award is that the winners received the award from Sheikh Hamdan himself and those moments are nothing short of a dream come true. His Highness had an aura of kindness and we feel immensely fortunate to have experienced that.”

Another young and bright student who had become the latest recipient of the Hamdan award was a Grade 6 student from Delhi Private School, Sharjah.

Eleven-year-old Raghav Krishna Seshadri Sumanth has won the prestigious award in the Grade 6-12 category for Distinguished Students in for the year 2020-2021. He was due to receive his award next month and was looking forward to meeting the late leader.

Saddened by the news of the Deputy Ruler’s demise, Sumanth said: “I was eagerly awaiting the prize ceremony next month to meet him in person to receive the Hamdan Award and was praying for his speedy recovery and good health. The news of his passing away has saddened me a lot. It is an irreparable loss to the UAE and to the whole world. May his soul rest in peace in heaven.”

Calling the late leader inspirational, Sumanth said: “He was the most noble person the world has witnessed, one who dedicated his life for education and upliftment of students and empowering them to become leaders. He has endeared himself to all sections of the society by carrying out numerous humanitarian deeds. He has endeared himself to all sections of the society through numerous humanitarian deeds.”

Pledging to carry forward Sheikh Hamdan’s legacy of giving, Sumanth said: “My noble cause is to help and facilitate education and overall empowerment of children of determination, refugee children and homeless orphans by raising funds and teaching. I will continue to use my talents towards this noble cause as I believe that the higher aim in life to is to use your skills, abilities and talents for the benefit of others, as life is about giving.”

Hamdan educational awards

Among the many educational and scientific awards, Sheikh Hamdan had instituted for generations to come were the Unesco-Hamdan Prize for Teacher Development that was created in 2008 to support the improvement of teaching and learning quality in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Quality Education, which is one of Unesco’s priorities. Awarded every two years, the prize amounts to $300,000, which is equally divided between three winners whose projects aim at improving the performance and effectiveness of teachers globally.

In the medical sector, the late Sheikh Hamdan instituted the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences in April 1999, with the objective of honouring scientists from every part of the world who pursue medical research that serves the larger interests of humanity. The award recognises the importance of scientific research in the UAE, and funds domestic health research.

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