Education, the pathway to better thinking - GulfToday

Education, the pathway to better thinking

UAE Education

Image for illustrative purpose only. Credit: WAM

The American philosopher John Dewey had this to say about education: “Education is not preparation for life; it is life itself.”

This emphasises the overarching importance of education. It makes one not only more learned, it also makes him or her a better person. This world is full of the benighted, who are reeking of ignorance and prejudice. They are the ones that sow the seeds of division with their narrow, bigoted views; who will only stoke communal hatred, whose intolerance for other faiths fans the flames of prejudice. The road to enlightenment is through education; the foundation may be tough, but it is solid and makes you a shining symbol of culture rather than an illiterate who is boorish and irritating.

Education is the key to progress, for the development of both the individual and society.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, highlighted the need for this at the Majlis Mohamed Bin Zayed Ramadan Series.

Sheikh Abdullah shared his own views on the topic, commenting: “There is no doubt that education nowadays is not only an essential requirement to finding a job, or gaining a certain skill, but it is essential to having a vibrant life that contributes to boosting our motivations. It increases our understanding of each other, our understanding of society, and also increases our passion for knowledge.”

Professor John Sexton, President Emeritus of New York University Abu Dhabi, discussed how education should draw out from each individual what their capacities are. This, he said, is done in a generally uniform way through primary and secondary education, but the individuality of a person comes to be recognised through education beyond school, when they either go to college or university, or – if this form of education is not suitable for them – when they undertake vocational training to learn specific skills.

“Each student is a wonderful gift of creation and he or she has capacities that have to be brought out by education.” He added, “I applaud the fact that the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi have focused on the importance of lifelong learning, because lifelong learning is really the actuation of the gift of life. And it creates for us a beautiful symphony, created by all the piano notes we come to play.”

The emotional aspect of learning is just as important as the provision of knowledge, and how the welfare of the teachers should also be paramount.  

All the improvements have to be win-win, meaning that that you have to be improving excellence and the capabilities for learning, but you also have to take care of social, emotional learning and holistic well-being.

In this respect the family is the first ‘classroom’ and parents should impart the right lessons to their children, that will inculcate in them the virtues of tolerance and respect for other faiths, something the UAE has put its stamp of approval on.

Education reform and innovation is more than a necessity; it is also a priority, said Reem Bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau.

“As UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, and the Chairperson of global philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares, I have a profound professional interest in the future of education, knowledge creation, preservation and transfer,” she said.

For decades, we have asked increasingly urgent questions of the conventional educational structures we inherited from our forebears. And then in the course of 2020 we learned our lesson, as those structures proved eminently unsuitable for the challenges of the new reality in which we find ourselves. We have to constantly adapt ourselves to changes and strive to better not only our lives, but those of other people too.

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