x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

For pupils, a new dose of patriotism

Government and private schools across the Emirates will be required to raise the UAE flag and play the national anthem before classes start each morning.

Abu Dhabi // Government and private schools across the Emirates will be required to raise the UAE flag and play the national anthem before classes start each morning, following a circular issued by Humaid al Qutami, the Minister of Education. The impact will be felt most by private schools that are not in the practice of playing the national anthem in the morning. Many state schools already start the school day with the national anthem. "Raising the flag and playing the national anthem are a must for students when attending school because it reflects their national sentiments towards their nation, leadership and land," Mr al Qutami said in a statement issued by WAM, the state news agency. "The lyrics of the national anthem are among the key factors to enhancing identity and forming a positive relationship between an individual and his community." David Toghill, a learning coordinator at Al Safa Secondary School, a state school in Dubai, said his school already started the day with the national anthem. "I think it's a fantastic thing," Mr Toghill said of the government decision. "It just sort of reminds staff and students what country we're in, to pay proper respect to the UAE." Graham Penson, a spokesman for Dubai College, a private British school in Dubai, also welcomed the move, which followed directives issued by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. "We will obviously look at what the ministry has suggested and respond accordingly," Mr Penson said. "There isn't any problem with us raising the flag every morning. We have the flag flying every day of the year." Yousef al Shehhi, principal of the Al Rams Secondary School, a state school in Ras al Khaimah, said the decision would not impact his school because they already raise the flag and play the national anthem each morning. But he also supported the government's decision, saying it was important to reinforce national identity. klewis@thenational.ae