x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Children welcome education minister with song

The children sang Hans Vili-Vili, a Finnish nursery rhyme, and the school's 14 Finnish teachers sang their homeland's national anthem.

Students playing in the play area of Al Raqiah girls school in Al Ain, where they were visited by Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the National Security Adviser and vice chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
Students playing in the play area of Al Raqiah girls school in Al Ain, where they were visited by Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the National Security Adviser and vice chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

AL AIN // Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the National Security Adviser and vice chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, was greeted yesterday by hundreds of young Emirati pupils singing to him in Finnish.

He was visiting Al Raqiah school here with Humaid Al Qattami, the UAE's education minister, and Henna Virkkunen, Mr al Qattami's Finnish counterpart.

The children sang Hans Vili-Vili, a nursery rhyme, and the school's 14 Finnish teachers sang their homeland's national anthem.

Al Raqiah and the capital's Al Ameen school are the only institutions in the UAE testing the Finnish approach to education, which claims to be a more child-centered pedagogical method.

Instead of moving to a new class each year, teachers and students move up with the same class throughout their six years of primary school.

"That way," according to Heli Liaiho, who is teaching a class of 6- and 7-year-olds, "we will know them better, and how to deal with them."

Some staff at Al Raqiah, however, have expressed concern. "Before, they had British teachers teaching them English," said Sheikha al Darmaki, the school's social worker. "Now they face some difficulty understanding their accents. But they have introduced good new teaching methods ... how to absorb information, and not just read or memorise it."

Dr al Qattami said the system could "add value to education development".

"Finland right now has one of the best education systems," he said. "With co-operation with Finland, we can do a lot together."

 

osalem@thenational.ae