How the UAE’s 21st Century education sector is creating the innovators of tomorrow

In May of this year, the UAE’s Ministry of Education unveiled a forward-thinking strategy to shift the focus of schooling across our nation.

As part of the new approach, our country’s education sector will concentrate on preparing young people for life beyond the classroom, shaping them into the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Of particular interest were the appointments made to support this updated strategy…

A wealth of experience

His Excellency Dr Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, was named Minister of Education. Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, was tasked with overseeing public education in the Emirates as well as how young people are taught about technology.

Meanwhile, Her Excellency Sara Musallam, who boasts vast experience within the fields of education and technology, was named Minister of State for Early Education, with responsibility for the newly established Federal Authority of Early Education.

The nature of these appointments clearly demonstrates the UAE’s overarching goal: to create an education system that gives students all the tools they need to succeed in their future careers.

The future of education

These appointments are also in keeping with the advice of Lord Sebastian Coe, double Olympic champion, former British Member of Parliament and Chancellor of the UK’s Loughborough University, who – only a few days later – told attendees at the Unlearn/Relearn conference that more must be done to help realise the potential of future generations.

During the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) event, Lord Coe highlighted that the current education model does not work and that it has been ‘broken for 40 years’. He stressed that we have to be able to use technology to help future generations to navigate their way through their passions and interests.

Agreeing with him at the session was Waleed Al Baddad, Director of Smart Learning and e-Content Development at the UAE’s Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, who pointed out the need to find ways to ‘train young people so they are capable of performing several different roles in the future’.

Judging by the backgrounds of HE Al Falasi, HE Al Amiri and HE Musallam, it seems the UAE’s leadership pre-empted the Unlearn/Relearn panellists’ advice. The combination of entrepreneurship and advanced technology represents not only the essence of what our nation is working to achieve, but also the key to its long-term prosperity.

A solid foundation

The UAE has long since enjoyed an international reputation for its investments in advanced technology, and our country is now working equally diligently to build an education sector that will help students to thrive in jobs of the future.

It’s also important to note that our nation is not starting from scratch. Consider initiatives such as One Million Arab Coders (OMAC), which is designed to develop digital literacy among our region’s young people in a bid to employ a growing youth population in the digital economy.

I am proud of the fact that the Hussain Sajwani – DAMAC Foundation had the opportunity to sponsor the initiative.

Then there are entities such as Dubai Future Academy, which is supporting the development of learning through forward-thinking programmes that cover future literacy, technologies and methodologies.

On top of this, further benefits are likely to stem from the fee-free Ajyal Schools model launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, last month.

This initiative will see government schools partner with leading private sector organisations to adopt advanced learning outcomes that combine the best of national and international curricula.

Consider also the public-private partnerships that are helping to drive progress within the UAE’s education sector. At DAMAC, we recently signed an MoU with the Knowledge Fund Establishment.

As part of this, DAMAC Group will deliver AED 20 million worth of sponsorship to support the Dubai Schools project, providing scholarship funding to cover Emirati students’ tuition fees from the beginning of the 2022/23 academic year.

Thanks to a combination of historic initiatives and contemporary measures, the UAE education sector is now ideally placed to deliver highly skilled and well-rounded young people who will grow to become the innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

As Lord Coe pointed out: “If you have a well-educated workforce, then you will have a well-educated country and, effectively, have control over your own destiny.”

But our nation has lived by this philosophy since it was established more than half a century ago. In the words of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the UAE: “The real asset of any advanced nation is its people, especially the educated ones, and the prosperity and success of the people are measured by the standard of their education.”