The UAE provides a safe and stimulating environment in which children can thrive and grow up to become responsible citizens and residents and contribute to the growth of the country, a top government official said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the World Early Childhood Development (WED) forum in Abu Dhabi, Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence (AI) said the UAE realises the importance of creating an ideal environment for children to thrive, develop and expand their perceptions and knowledge, in addition to providing them a safe and fruitful experience in the technological space.
“In the light of the rapid technological revolution, driven by the fourth industrial revolution and artificial intelligence applications in various areas of life and of work, the government is adopting a forward-looking and proactive approach to build scenarios and design solutions to address challenges posted by the technological development at communities, individuals and vital sectors level,” he said.
“This is done through effective partnership between both the government and private sectors, as well collaboration in designing solutions to address technological challenges and their future effects on childhood.”
Al Olama said this will help create an enabling environment for children and their creativity and development, while ensuring the safe use of technology.
The minister highlighted the role of the WED Movement launched by the UAE Early Childhood Development Authority with the aim of ensuring the positive impact of technology on children’s lives, empowering the early childhood development sector, contributing to humanising technology and promoting efforts to leverage AI applications in developing the best early childhood development practices.
“The focus on AI is one of our top priorities in the coming 50 years. We seem to increase AI contribution to advancing various sectors, as the main driver of the comprehensive and sustainable development,” said Al Olama.
In a different session at the forum, UAE experts said investing on early childhood development is vital in building a good workforce for the future.
Dr Tariq bin Hindi, group chief investment officer at G42 said: “Investing is early childhood development is critical in building human capital and ensuring future labour force productivity,” he said.
“It creates better education, health, social and economic outcomes that increase revenue and reduce the need for costly social spending. Nations seeking to reduce deficits and strengthen the economy should make significant investments in early childhood education.”
Eng. Abudullah Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, head of investments and new initiatives, UAE Investments Platform, Mubadala said it is important for nations to ensure that all children are well-nourished and intellectually stimulated, both at home and at school, so they can become productive adults in an increasingly competitive and integrated global economy.
According to the experts, the challenges involved in early childhood development is that it is a long-term investment and the returns take long to be achieved compared to short-term projects where many businesspersons might want to invest their resources for quick returns.
Prof. Cecilia Vaca Jones, executive director at the Bernard van Leer Foundation said early childhood development involves ways of proper growth and upbringing of children. It involves providing good education, healthcare and good social environment for children.
Research shows that investing in the early years of children’s lives is among the most cost-effective way a country can cultivate a productive workforce.
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