x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

FNC hopefuls call for more relevant school subjects

Curriculums need to cater for Emiratis' unique circumstances, say candidates.

Education has been a pressing concern for many FNC candidates, who suggest more needs to be done to tailor the school experience to Emiratis' unique circumstances.

Shamsa Al Bloushi, a candidate from Al Ain and principal of a government school in the city, said the biggest problem with schools was the absence of lessons to imbue pupils with patriotic values.

"We want national identity to be taught in schools," Mrs Al Bloushi said. "We need a subject directed to nationals."

The curriculum for that subject, and others, should be drawn up by Emiratis, she said.

"The curriculum must be put by locals in order for it to be directed to nationals," Mrs Al Bloushi said.

Some textbooks being used contain material not relevant to Emirati schoolchildren. "Some things that work in other countries do not necessarily work for us," she said.

But Otaiba bin Khalaf, an Abu Dhabi candidate, believes the real problem is not with who writes the curriculum, but the lack of Emirati teachers.

Changing that, Mr bin Khalaf said, would require better salaries and a better image for teachers.

"We want the best teachers to teach our students," he said. "If you have two nationals looking for a job and one is better paid, why does a national need to tire himself in working as a teacher?"

The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) announced this year primary schools in the emirate would hire far more female Emirati teachers for this academic year.

Rashad Bukhash, a candidate from Dubai, places more emphasis in the need to change private education.

"Students from private schools identify much less with the UAE," Mr Bukhash said. "Their ideas are very different as well."

He believes a subject should be introduced in all private schools to teach all pupils about the UAE.

"It is even more important that they teach this subject in private schools," Mr Bukhash said. "Half of the students, even more than that, are local."

There have been persistent complaints through the campaign about the level of civic knowledge among young Emiratis. "Children come and ask 'What is the FNC?'" one candidate, who asked not to be identified, told Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for FNC Affairs and head of the National Election Committee, at a public meeting in Al Ain a fortnight ago.

He added the campaign could be held before the start of the academic year to allow greater involvement for students and children.