Moral Education to be introduced to UAE School Curriculums
by Al Mubasheri | July 2016
"Moral education" will be introduced to school curriculums in an initiative from Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The subject aims to promote ethics, personal and community growth, culture and heritage, civic education, and rights and responsibilities.
"Through reinforcing values that have enabled the UAE to become what it is now, and through highlighting our national role models and the remarkable achievements of human history, we hope to present those lessons to future generations," said Sheikh Mohammed, also Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
The project, in its planning phase, is to be overseen by bodies including the Ministry of Education and Abu Dhabi Education Council. A committee will be formed to help develop the subject before it is adopted in schools.
Dr Ali Al Nuaimi, director general of Adec, praised the plan. "The initiative aims to instil ethical values among UAE school students and to promote such concepts as tolerance, respect and community participation," Dr Al Nuaimi said. It hopes to develop a spirit of entrepreneurship, positive interaction and responsibility, and encourage a love of learning, creativity, innovation and ambition in pupils.
Dr Al Nuaimi said the challenges of the 21st century required government, educators and parents to work together to teach ethics and community values to young people, and build an educated, cultured society."This subject is very necessary and we have wished for it for a long time," said Fatina Al Dajani, a former Adec education inspector and now head of Arabic language, Islamic and social studies at Horizon Private School.
Young people "should learn not to look down on each other. All humans are equal and they must learn respect difference of opinion," she said.
Mrs Al Dajani believed that parents would also benefit from the subject. "Because it is natural for parents to help young graders with their studies at home, this will strengthen their vision and awareness on issues of which they were ignorant. It will also introduce them to the UAE’s politics and vision."
Mrs Al Dajani said the subject should be presented in a light and catchy way. "It should not be dry and simply read out. It should be based on real-life experiments and field visits," she said.
Imane Lafi, mother of Grade 11 and 12 pupils in Abu Dhabi, said moral studies was a positive move but it might not work if children are exposed to contrary behaviour at home. "Adding it is an improvement but if the child was raised in a racist environment, where the mother abuses the housemaid and there is no respect between the parents – it would not make much of a difference," she said.
But Ms Lafi said it could have a longer-term effect when pupils started applying what they learnt in their own homes.
For pupils of her children’s age, the subject should look at major problems and social risks, such as drug use. "Most importantly, the subject should not be taught in theory because moral ethics is not a science that can be taught through a mathematical equation," Ms Lafi said.
"It should be conducted through dialogue and discussions with the students, where they suggest the solutions to the issues presented in front of them."
Clive Pierrepont, director of communications at schools company Taaleem, said "moral education" was an important element of child development. "Moral education helps children acquire those values and virtues that will enable them individually and collectively to live positive lives," Mr Pierrepont said.
Taaleem-run schools already have similar programmes in their curriculums aimed at developing a "moral compass".
"Our International Baccalaureate schools have clearly stated objectives in the learner profile," said Mr Pierrepont.
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