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23 August, 2005

Bright pupils, bright future

The emiratisation debate will eventually become obsolete thanks to visionaries such as Sheikh Nahyan, the UAE education minister. Sheikh Nahyan is determined to overhaul UAE public schools and bring in a standards-based education system, preparing young people properly for the workplace:

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: A top UAE official yesterday called for education reforms in public schools that aim to create "a world-class, standards-based education system."

Addressing the opening of the two-day Eighth Convocation of Zayed University, Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Education, also stressed the need to focus on "productive employment-oriented programmes" in the educational institutions.

This is not the first time Sheikh Nayhan has made his views on the current status of the UAE education system very clearly known. Whatever reasons led to UAE public education being in its current quagmire, most educators are strongly in support of Nahyan's reform plans:

Dr Abdullah Al Karam, Chief Executive of Dubai Knowledge Village, said as the country and the region are going through significant changes, there was a need for "a major change" in public schools.

"We don't only need reforms but also a rebirth," he told Gulf News.



Blogger sandsOfTime said...

Hello SD

I had the unfortunate pleasure of going through the public education system here. I am not exaggerating when I say that I still mourn the wasted years of my youth spent in the hell hole that was my school. List of things wrong with school: Poorly paid idiotic teachers typically from Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Somalia, etc. A curriculum that you can pass by just memorizing your way through, poorly written text books, crumbling infrastructure (On a side note, I visited my school a few months ago. The desk I used to sit in when I was 10 years old is STILL there more than 15 years later), widespread bullying. In other words, the entire system is designed to kill off whatever latent creativity the students may have. Those who succeed after graduating do so DESPITE their schooling and not because of it.

Why is our education system such a mess? Because like everything else, we imported it during the 70's. We however made the dumb mistake of basing ours on the Egyptian system and other Arabic systems which themselves are based on the Ottoman System. The Ottoman system was designed around creating subservient civil servants and soldiers out of its population. Have you ever wondered why much of the Arab world is dysfunctional? Because it goes hand in hand with an equally dysfunctional education system.

This is why national parents prefer to spend the expense on sending thier kids to International Schools here in the UAE. Despite being very expensive, the International schools here are actually pretty good and do an excellent job of preparing the students for their future. One of the side effects is the kids don't have a strong command of Arabic as thier parents, something which has become prevalent among the children of well-to do nationals.

Our public education system needs to be demolished and rebuilt from scratch. You cannot reform a system that was built on perpetuating repression.

23 August, 2005 09:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sandsoftime: You have reiterated what I have heard about most Arab public school systems. And I must say I am happy to hear this kind of criticism coming from the inside, rather than from the outside. I would like to ask you -- and other locals -- however, a sensitive question...Do you also think religion comes to play? From my understanding, Islam also promotes an unquestioning faith (like Catholicism too!) and a relentless devotion to linear thinking. What do you think? Has that also had an affect on Arab school systems in general?

23 August, 2005 13:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having gone through public education systems in Bahrain and Qatar, I can tell you that Bahrain's public education is superior to that of Qatar. I assume that the UAE's is more or less like Qatar's (in the 90's.. not sure what this is like now).

What Bahrain did was follow on the footsteps of Kuwait. That is, introduce a credit system (sort of like college) and revamp their entire curriculim. They created a balance between pure memorization and problem solving capabilities. I think it worked out well. Sadly though, I hear it's no longer working out right now.

As for the guy asking about religion.. I don't think so. Religion is simply a subject. You may, of course, find references to it in biology or physics books.. but nothing significant to derail the educational system.

Of course, IMHO, religion should be taught at the mosque and not at school -- but that's a whole other story ;)

23 August, 2005 14:39  
Blogger Hurricane_ said...

Coming out this system one can only wonder WHY there is so much umemployement among LOCALS. Thanx SOT, this answers a lot of question I had about public school system in the UAE when I met kids FRESH OUT of high schools/college freshmen during my time there. The govt does need to fix the problem at the grass root levels.

23 August, 2005 18:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have lived in the UAE for many years, arrived in '81.

I have no knowledge on the education here. But I have have heard is that a lot nationals want to walk straight into a high position well paying job. Don't want to work their way up the ladder. Or don't want to work as they are well supported by the family.

Is this common or if it just a few people, I know there are a number of people like this in the UK aswell.

23 August, 2005 19:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate what SOT said about public education, but private education here in the Emirates is an over priced, expensive rip off as well. I hope the government is sharpening it's knives to go after the shysters who run these private get rich quick schools. They are equally disgusting!

24 August, 2005 08:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i went to probably one of the top government schools in the UAE (the type of school in nad al sheba, with police out the front and a budget as big as the US's war on terror, and grounds about as big as a small african country).

it was pretty good. but the high school diploma system (HSD or as myself and a few others enjoyed calling it, High School Dumbass, or even better High School Dropout). it was pretty badly scheduled, for instance when i was studying and doing my AS exams, the HSD students were going on weekly trips to dubai police and got to drive around in the bel hasa training car things, and in the beginning of the year they got work experience while we stayed in school and had to work. I think the HSD system is primarily just something to do for them while they are forced to go to school, if they didnt have HSD, they'd probably just sit there causing problems all day long, which they do anyway. once they're 18, they go to university with a UAE govt scholorship (which provides them with varying amounts of money each month depending on who they are), and when they're back in dubai, they get given a job. The teachers in this school actually gave a damn, which was different from other dubai schools where they are run for money (emirates international school anyone?).

i've just finished school and in 15 days im starting at college in australia (experience from an expat btw)

24 August, 2005 17:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


i suppose you are talking about rashid school for boys and latifah for girls where chilren of local dignitaries and their suck up western entourage`s kids get admitted too (no admission for expats anymore or supposedly at present) Those few elite who were with you do not represent the emirati youth so you can`t generalise and the grants or money given to maintain one abroad is not sufficient by any means , nor are jobs handed once an emirati student gets back ,you need to get your facts straight .

25 August, 2005 20:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AFAIK they have hsd in every other public school in the UAE, and its not very difficult, its basically an extension on GCSE, and not a very big one at that.

PS: of all the suck up entourage in the school, none were western.

25 August, 2005 21:10  
Blogger samuraisam said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

25 August, 2005 21:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very interesting comments,particularly from sandsoftime. If that criticism reflects generally on the type of education available for emiratis in the uae, it would probably partially explain the low levels of employment in the private sector for emiratis. I say partially, because as much as the government can push for more vocational training, unless the local stigma attached to low paying jobs is removed, nationals will not seek out such jobs. Either that or economics will force that change. Look at Saudi Arabia. Twenty years ago it was unthinkable for a saudi to be a taxi driver or corner shop attendant. Now, some saudis desperately seek those jobs. Why? One reason would be the population explosion created by a welfare state and petrodollars in the 1970s-80s. The solution is to remove the sense of entitlement among nationals, to teach them that any job is better than voluntary unemployment.

26 August, 2005 21:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your friends heard wrong,not every emirati student is entiteled to a scholarship abroad, as a matter of fact ,an average of at least 85 more so 90% and above
score in high school diploma is required depending on the major also pending that the major sought is not available or thought in UAE or the college have already reached the limit to be accepted in that particular school year ., all my local colleages send their children studying abroad extra money as what allocated is not enough, certain policies dictate the change in countries where students are sent, all have to pass interview etc. ,fees money is not released to the university by uae embassyfor any term before a paSSING GRADE REPORT IS SENT automatically from university for cpmpleted semester to embassy,etc, lots of restriction when you get back , need to serve no. of yrs in certain institutions here,,,etc,etc,
could have been an easy , touristic ride too way back BUT NO MORE.
many locals love to bragg or show off with such false info.

Those in Rahid school etc. do not need scholarships , parents can afford to pay abroad.

29 August, 2005 23:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

emirat students wuth an average below 60 something % in high school diploma cant enter any collage here , they need to go to private colleges here or abroad and pay out of their own pockets , there is a minimal % requirement to enter gov. colleges, universities here.

29 August, 2005 23:29  
Blogger samuraisam said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

30 August, 2005 19:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no dear , not ANY uae student have this opportunity, then what would be the purpose of setting up universitries here , if there are 20 scholarships ALLOCATED to australia , 10 tO usa etc., for undergraduates in particular fields this year then maybe 500 OR MORE of the brightest students ( OUT OF 30,000 )applying , but only those with highest score in diploma, toefl, sat exams ,interview getting it.Some scholarships from certain countries are gifts to UAE PAID BY THAT PARTICULAR COUNTRY IN EXCHANGE OF THEIR STUDENTS GETTING FREE SCHOLARSHIPS HERE PAID BY UAE GOV. EXCHANGE PROGRAMME.

01 September, 2005 07:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

like someone said earlier there would be 100 (of the brightest) competing for 20 scholarships abroad so again the creme de la creme is chosen .

01 September, 2005 07:33  

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