Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Flexible education can only be a good thing for the UAE

Getting the most out of education is key to a successful life - and choice of systems and methods is at the heart of improving the system.

My father was bright and motivated enough to take full advantage of the educational opportunities that began to become available to Emirati citizens in the 1970s. After receiving his bachelorís in Cairo and working for a few years in Abu Dhabi, he and my mother received scholarships from the government to hone their English-language skills and pursue their masterís in the US.

The provisions of the scholarship ensured they could bring the entire family along.

We were all whisked away to California, where I was to get my first taste of the American education system at the elementary level, while my parents received a more concentrated dose pursuing their theses.

Some of my recollections of American schools include creative art classes, taking care of the classroom hamster and smiley stickers next to my name on the board. All were a world away when I returned to a private school in Sharjah, replaced by dull science classes, taking care to avoid corporal punishment and scowling teachers placing your name on a detention board.

So when my father scooped up the whole family once again in pursuit of his PhD, in England this time, I thought I had been rescued.

Wishful thinking.

The scowling teachers, their physical discipline and their drab teaching styles were still present, only changing in appearance.

My father didnít have it much better at the doctorate level, where his graduation was delayed a whole year by one board member who did not like his dissertation.

When he did finally receive his PhD in journalism, his first order of business on returning was to write an article negatively comparing the British education system with the American Ė an opinion I wholeheartedly shared after my secondary education experience.

To make certain that future students were aware of what they were signing up for, the Ministry of Higher Education displayed my fatherís article in their offices for an extended period of time, no doubt influencing a few decisions.

Being his eldest son, I had no say in the matter, and would have picked a return to the far West even if I did.

The ability to delay choosing an emphasis of study until the end of the second year, the more diverse curriculum and the easier access to professors convinced not only me but also an increasing number of British students to choose the US higher education model of the UKís.

Another aspect that still attracts me to the US model is the presence of mature (as in returning) students, such as myself, on campuses across the states.

A wider age range in the class brings added depth in diversity and experience that can only benefit the students.

Many working Emiratis are now returning to receive their diplomas, bachelorís, and masterís degrees at public universities based on the US system. As opposed to many nations which are flooded with degree holders who are increasingly unemployed and overqualified, UAE citizens are encouraged to and rewarded for receiving additional education.

Furthermore, UAE public and private universities based on the American system are increasingly attracting students from around the world and turning the country into a regional educational hub.

A system with greater choices and more flexibility has and will continue to improve and expand education in the region.

Thamer Al Subaihi is a reporter at The National and a returning Emirati who grew up largely in the US

tsubaihi@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Thoughtful tailoring at Asudari

The womenswear label Asudari showcased a collection that featured sharp masculine tailoring, but with feminine silhouettes.

Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games.

Designer Lamia Asudari says she was influenced by Delftware ceramics from the 16th century, as well as the imagery of weaponry and artillery. Indeed, pistols, grenades and guns were emblazoned over jackets and dresses.

 Several of Jo Baaklini's pieces featured fruit prints. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: At Starch, watermelon shirts, anyone?

“We need to cultivate our own fashion heroes — our own regional brands,” stressed Fashion Forward’s honcho Bong Guerrero in a press con two weeks ago.

Aptly, the slot for this season’s opening runway show was given to two newbies: Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek, whose talents were scouted by Starch, a group dedicated to launching emerging Lebanese designers.

Between the two, Mr Baaklini had a stronger showing.

 Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece. Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Jean Louis Sabaji’s debatable debut

Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece, the floral crop top, and the radiant yellow pleated skirt.

But most of the time he went too far. There were bell-bottoms, separates that looked like costumes from The Jetsons, and a yellow dress reminiscent of Bjork’s infamous Oscars swan dress — several disparate elements in one multicoloured, multilayered show.

 Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all.” Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Kage pleases all palates

Did the designers of Kage aim to showcase every type of basic clothing on their latest show?

Because there were skirts, shorts, trousers, off-shoulder tops, short dresses, cocktail dresses, long flowy dresses, spaghetti straps, jackets, hoods — and even pyjamas, which with the incoming summer heat, looked especially appealing.

Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all”, they said in their statement.

 The standout was a grey hooded cape that created a tension between edge and elegance. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Polish, craft (and fur!) at The Emperor 1688

The best show of Day 1 at Fashion Forward was delivered by the three Golkar brothers behind The Emperor 1688.

The coats and capes were the clear winners: they came in all sorts of interesting colours and sizes — and featured exceptionally tailored proportions. There was a lot of volume, but also stiffness.

And whimsy: two favourites were a green double-breasted suit and a blue overcoat with a red clover pattern and gold buttons.

 Midway through Ezra's show, snow started falling from the ceiling. Ian Gavan / Getty Images for Fashion Forward

Fashion Forward: Ezra stuns in snow-covered show

Turns out the Filipino designer Ezra, known for his dreamy couture, still had a few surprises up his sleeve.

Midway through his show, snow started falling from the ceiling.

It created a starkly beautiful atmosphere for his intricately constructed gowns that seemed to be designed for an Ice Queen transported back to the 1950s.

He showed a collection that had a lot of technical firepower behind it: glittering iridescent fabrics paired with head and neckpieces that were moulded and stiffened to stand out in odd angles.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National