We have come a Long Way: Redefining Education and its Global Challenges in the United Arab Emirates
Presenter: Ayesha Fadhel Al Ateeqi
Abu Dhabi Women’s College, Higher Colleges of Technology
United Arab Emirates
Theme: The Role of Education in Meeting Global Challenges
Since the early 1950s, the role of education in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has gone through many changes. The process of globalization has significantly influenced the educational landscape of the country. This paper discusses the evolution of education in the UAE beginning with a brief historical overview, an analysis of current realities existing in educational settings, and the challenges and successes for the country, whose economy is based on acquiring and sustaining knowledge.
Beginning from simple Qur’anic schools of the past to an internationally competitive university system, education in the UAE has undergone many reforms. In keeping with global challenges and the need for reform in education, the UAE is in agreement with a World Bank report that suggests that “…developing countries need to equip themselves with the highly skilled and flexible human capital needed to compete effectively in today’s dynamic global markets” (n.d.). The aim of this paper is to discuss and introduce new ways of making the acquisition of knowledge more effective and how to align education with the social and economic needs of the country, in order to achieve and maintain a competitive global edge.
Educational policy reform and a modernization of the UAE’s educational systems are a necessity, and require the implementation of profound and systemic changes. The need for change stems from the fact that the oil industry, the main source of the UAE’s economic sustainability has fostered a need for an educated workforce able to keep pace with international markets. UAE leaders recognize that to support the economy, we must produce well prepared citizens who are well suited for the oil industry, “… the backbone of the economy is the oil industry,” says Sheikh Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Research” (2005).