x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Balancing cultures is key to education

Do you feel that the school systems, both public and post-secondary, are adequate for learning? What would you change, if anything?

Each month, Weekend will pose a different question to be debated on by a series of female Emirati columnists. This month, we ask Ayesha Al Khoori:

Do you feel that the school systems, both public and post-secondary, are adequate for learning? What would you change, if anything?

Even though the UAE’s leaders aim to develop education and make it a priority, the system still requires adjustments to achieve maximum improvement.

In high school, most classes are uninteresting and follow the same teaching style. Teachers recite the lesson, jot down a few notes and call it a successful class. Most of the time, students’ questions go unanswered.

Public or government schools fail to provide basic English skills to the students, since most teachers cannot speak adequate English to begin with. The reality is that these students will join a university after graduation, and the universities or colleges that they will attend will surely require them to speak and write in English.

Private schools, on the other hand, focus so much on teaching in English that the students’ Arabic, their mother language, is neglected. Not many schools focus on both languages equally, which is a problem stated by many authorities. Students are unable to communicate in their own mother tongue, and the Arabic language is set to effectively disappear in the coming years. Concerned parents are worried over the neglect of the language, and serious reform is needed immediately.

Both systems fail to teach students how to think critically, instead using memorisation as a tool for students in exams. Memorisation is needed in some courses, but experts believe that students must learn to explore and reason on their own.

Another problem is that there isn’t enough focus on Islam. We live in an Islamic country, and share Islamic values and law. So, why don’t the students know much about their religion?

International history and issues, as important as they are, cannot be more important than the Arabic history and culture. I grew up not knowing much about our culture, heritage or even language. To me, that’s a shame, and now I am struggling to speak and write in my own language.

The initial changes to the education system should first start with proper administrations that understand the students, their parents and the educational track that the students must take to reach their goals in life.

Teachers must also be prepared to change their techniques, listen to the students’ concerns and reach every student individually. Different students have different capacities, and not all excel in certain classes.

Changing the curriculum to fit most students, both local and foreign, is a must. Both languages should be taught equally, as the English language is needed to be able to converse with others, and our mother language is needed for us to hang on to our heritage and culture.

The education system needs immediate adjustments for the students to reach their potential.

Ayesha Al Khoori is an Emirati intern at The National.


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