Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Young professionals will need to live up to that label 

For this country to be prepared for the post-oil era, it will need an engaged, well-educated and driven younger generation

New standards will be introduced into schools this year. Reem Mohammed / The National
New standards will be introduced into schools this year. Reem Mohammed / The National

Next time you are in the office, tear your eyes away from your screen for a moment and look around the room at your colleagues. Now ask yourself who you most respect and why? Is it because that person has a strong work ethic or a finely tuned moral compass. Maybe that person is blessed with what management-speak labels a “can-do attitude” or is a true and reliable friend. It’s a discussion worth considering because the workplace is evolving and each new generation that enters the workforce has a different perspective on office conduct and responsibilities.

As The National reported, Dr Ali Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Department of Education and Knowledge, spoke earlier this week about the need for young people to be taught the true meaning of morals and ethics, professionalism in the workplace and the importance of punctuality.

Moral education classes have been part of the school curriculum since the start of this term, following last year’s directive by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. When he announced the initiative, Sheikh Mohammed said it was aimed at reinforcing tolerance, respect, cooperation, benevolence and generosity. Moral education lessons are taught without a formal curriculum or textbooks, representing both a cutting-edge experiment in educational instruction and an opportunity to reinforce this country’s key messages. Dr Al Nuaimi said moral ethics were neither optional nor a luxury. There can be no argument against that.

Two years ago, speaking at a Government Summit, Sheikh Mohammed imagined a moment, decades from now, when the UAE had shipped its last barrel of oil. “Will we be sad?” he asked. “If we are investing today in the right sectors, I can tell you we will celebrate at that moment.” Education, including moral education, is one of those sectors. For this country to be correctly geared for the post-oil era, it will need wise investment in a diversified economy and it will need an engaged, well-educated and driven younger generation. In short, it will need young professionals who live up to that badge. In that scenario, moral education instruction is absolutely central to the country’s destiny.