UAE education to focus on sustainable future, oil-free economy
Abu Dhabi - "Today, we launch a new initiative," announced Hussein bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, the UAE Minister of Education at the start of the forum.
Over five million jobs were lost worldwide during the 2008 financial crises. Rebuilding and growing a nation's economy is - according to the UAE's officials - closely linked to preparing the younger generations to understand and manage the new world challenges.
This was, largely, the message sent by the Qudwa Teachers' Forum that took place in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, October 5. Nearly 3,000 educators from the UAE and the GCC countries attended the forum, which coincided with International Teachers Day, October 5, as proclaimed by UNESCO in 1994.
"Today, we launch a new initiative," announced Hussein bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, the UAE Minister of Education at the start of the forum.
"Teach for the Sake of UAE is an initiative based on volunteering for retired, experienced professionals, who are invited to help students develop the skills and competencies required to develop future successful careers reflecting the UAE's development needs," he revealed.
For several years now, the UAE government has been reforming the country's education system to prepare a new generation able to keep an oil-free economy growing. "We need to equip our students with the knowledge for an economy without oil," stressed Al Hammadi.
Teaching the next gen
Interactive, hands-on teaching, making use of the latest technologies, are some of the paths the education system is taking nowadays. Countries like Finland have made some of the most daring educational reforms, with some of the best, most effective teaching methods.
Finland's Minister of Education, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, was at Qudwa Forum to share some of her nation's educational secrets. "Finland and the UAE are both small and brave nations, looking to develop a sustainable future, and knowledge is the best tool to build a future," she stressed.
"In Finland, we decentralised the education system, and were able to do so as all our teachers. were capable of developing individual educational curricula," explained Grahn-Laasonen.
Decentralising education resulted in better teaching methods and improved learning results in students. Furthermore, students in Finland have less school hours, little homework, more interactive lessons and smaller classroom numbers, at around 20 students per classroom, all leading to better focus on learning and assimilation of knowledge.
Alongside the forum, several organisations such as Masdar Institute and the International Renewable Energy Agency are exhibiting some of their programmes, showing educators where the future leads for the current generation of UAE students: a sustainable, oil-free world of opportunities.
Among them, the UAE Space Agency presented a future far beyond the earthly imagination. Its stand exhibited a Mars Habitat set in 2050, when the Agency believes we will have the technology to send people to the Red Planet. Mars Habitat has five different zones, each focusing on a different aspect of space science, exploration and habitation. The aim of the exhibition is to apply aspects of classroom science curriculum to real world scenarios.
"Education has been a primary focus and central component of the Space Agency's strategic vision for the future. Our education initiatives, such as this Mars Habitat exhibition, are a principal means for raising awareness of, and interest in, our national space sector," said Khalifa Al Romaithi, chairman of UAE Space Agency.