Education in the UAE: A School Principal Pens Her Thoughts
My belief that the foundation of a strong state rests in the education of it’s youth and my passion as an educationist motivated me to start my career as a teacher in the UAE. I stepped into my role in education on September 18, 1973. It led me to various leadership roles in many schools.
In 2002, I realized my own dream of bringing world-class education to our country, and thus decided to open the Sharjah British International School (SBIS). Our mission was to empower students through holistic and global learning in a rapidly changing world to assist them in the achievement of their goals. We align our vision with that of the UAE and educate through the values of respect and tolerance. From our humble beginnings and through persistent dedication, the school has grown through the years.
Since then, education in the country has come a long way, thanks to the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The UAE has made extraordinary progress in a remarkably small time. This significant progress can rightly be attributed to education. Today, few countries in the world take pride in bringing to their citizens a comprehensive education program to the extent the UAE government does. From kindergarten, all the way through to doctoral level, students have many opportunities to receive world class education at all levels.
H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah has also played an important role in actively pursuing the development of education in the emirate of Sharjah. Initially the emirate supported thousands in pursuing their higher education overseas as post-secondary options in the UAE were limited. Today, thanks to extensive investment in the education sector, citizens can obtain higher education in the country without having to relocate abroad. Upwards of twenty universities and institutes for higher education exist in Sharjah alone.
I dream of the day I will be able to see UAE-educated students stand shoulder to shoulder with those foreign-educated students who rank among the world’s best. As educators, we promote modern and industry leading educational approaches while preserving and being mindful of the rich cultural heritage of the UAE.
While education in the UAE has made a tremendous leap in the last decade, there is still some work to be done. As the nation progresses and the world begins to recognize the UAE beyond an oil-producing economy, the country has the huge responsibility of transforming itself to a knowledge-based economy. Our need is to integrate our system with innovative technology, models and strategies to ensure world-class excellence in teaching, research and development. We have started promoting the effective use of digital technology in schools. Such a move will not only lead to innovation and trends in higher education but will go a long way in attracting and retaining students in the region. If we want our schools to compete with the existing models in the U.S. and the U.K., we need new technologies that integrate sports with academics and churn holistic learners, enhance students’ personalities and optimize their productivity.
While we nurture our philosophy of ethics, integrity, and morality we need to teach the skills of coding and entrepreneurship to our students. Only then can we realize the dream of drawing students from the Middle East and make the UAE a desired education hub. We need to provide more courses and programs in both academics and vocational education to prepare a generation of qualified professionals that are equipped to handle the ever-increasing demands for a world class education in the region.
Until then we’ll continue making sure that we do all that we can to enable our schools to be the best!
Sheikha Deemas Yohan Al Yeris Al Subosi is the founder and principal of Sharjah British International School