x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Masdar to foster science in schools

The new material, planned for schools using the national Ministry of Education curriculum, will cover sustainability, environmental awareness and renewable energy.

Abu Dhabi // The government-owned alternative energy firm Masdar will help generate parts of new science curriculum in schools, education authorities announced yesterday. The new material, planned for schools using the national Ministry of Education curriculum, will cover sustainability, environmental awareness and renewable energy, according to the deal with the ministry, the Abu Dhabi Education Council and Masdar. State schools in Abu Dhabi using the council's curriculum also will participate.

"Renewable energy is a growing and important sector in the UAE, and thanks to the efforts of our leadership, we are transforming ourselves into an exporter of knowledge and expertise in the area of renewable energy technology," Dr Sultan al Jaber, chief executive of Masdar, said in a statement yesterday. "It is vital that we develop now to ensure we have a highly skilled workforce in the future that can see this transformation to its fruition."

Several areas of collaboration are outlined in the agreement, including curriculum development and teacher training. Masdar will provide technical support to teachers and give schools access to faculty and researchers from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology for mentorship programmes. The budget for the project has not yet been set, and the specifics of how Masdar will influence the curriculum are still being considered.

"The aim is to instill an appreciation for science at an early age, laying the foundations for increased environmental awareness and understanding of crucial topics such as climate change and sustainability as students progress through the school and university," Mr al Jaber said yesterday by e-mail. The Ministry of Education's science curriculum was recently criticised in a report released by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, which oversees education in Dubai.

"The Ministry of Education curriculum emphasises the acquisition of a body of scientific knowledge rather than the understanding and skills needed to apply the knowledge to real-life problems," the report added. The results from Dubai's participation in a the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study exam also indicated that students from state schools performed considerably worse in science than their peers in private schools that offered the UK and US curriculum on the science portion of the exam.

klewis@thenational.ae