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Sunday, July 3, 2011


Early on in the history of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan decided that education was important so he helped to set up a system of free, government-run institutions to educate the next generation to lead the country in developing its natural resource, oil. Today, we have the Higher Colleges of Technology which has men's and women's colleges in each of the Emirites. In addition, there are a number of private institutions such as Zayed University and Khalifa University. It's a great attestment to the vision of Sheikh Zayed that he realized the importance of educating the people in order to wisely use the wealth that was given to them.

Years later, there may be a little bump in that road because it seems that you can lead a horse to water, but if he already has everything he could possibly want without getting a degree, it's hard to get the motivation for him to study. Many of the students have been brought up never wanting for anything so they don't exactly have the drive to study hard to succeed. They'll likely succeed no matter what they do.

Another thing to remember is that the idea of education is pretty new to this region. Most of the students' grandparents were likely desert nomads. Even if a family recognizes the importance of education, they really would have little idea of what is involved with formal education and what teacher expectations are.

High schools aren't preparing the students for post-secondary studies, either. A recent study found that 90% of high school graduates in the UAE are not prepared to start a Bachelor's program. A large part of this is due to the pressure put on teachers of other nationalities. Student essays are filled with stories about how students complained a test was too hard and the teacher was required to write another one, how students complained about a teacher and he was replaced, or how a student undeservedly passed because his father was the teacher. With this going on, it's no wonder that students are unprepared for the reality of teachers in college.

As I was unofficially told, our college preparation program is not just preparing the students by educating them, we are the first line of people meant to teach the students life lessons such as turning up to work on time, doing their work , and dealing with others in a respectable manner.

Of course, it should be said that I'm dealing with low-achieving students. Many of the students in Bachelor's programs who are serious students. In a addition, I have a few students who are wonderful to deal with and are genuinely interested in learning and bettering themselves. It is good to know that His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan had a vision for the future.

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