Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: There is no doubt that education nowadays is not only essential to find a job, or gain 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, said Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Sheikh Abdullah brought this year’s Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed Ramadan Series to a close on Monday with a discussion on the importance of lifelong education to secure the development of both the individual and society.

Titled ‘Lifelong Learning: Unlocking our future Potential,’ the talk featured an inspiring discussion between Sara Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology, Chair of the UAE Space Agency, Chair of the UAE Council of Scientists and Deputy Project Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission, Professor John Sexton, President Emeritus of New York University Abu Dhabi and Saku Tuominen, Founder and CEO of HundrED, a global non-profit education organisation dedicated to helping children flourish.

Journey to Mars

Al Amiri described the journey of the Mars Mission from its inception to reaching the Red Planet, saying that it was continuous learning that was the essence of the programme’s success. “We started our work as a small team at the Emirates Mars Mission. It was just an idea; how could the UAE reach Mars? As the years went by, we faced considerable challenges,” said Al Amiri.

Part of 50th anniversary celebrations
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, this year’s edition of the Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed Ramadan Series was held in conjunction with the UAE’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Community members were encouraged to watch the episodes and engage with the topics, each one being presented by a number of experts pre-eminent in their respective fields.
The three other topics covered in Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed Ramadan Series this year were ‘Human Fraternity and Peaceful Coexistence,’ ‘Global Health’ and ‘Community Resilience.’ Each subject was selected with the aim of stimulating thought and discussion on important social aspects during the holy month, a traditional time for reflection and a focus on the community.
There will be a rerun of the fourth episode airing on Wednesday at 5.45pm on Emarat TV. All four episodes of Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed Ramadan Series are available on the MBZ Majlis YouTube Channel.

“However, these challenges were an unrivalled opportunity to learn. The lessons we had learnt from them, and the experience we had gained from them, were invaluable,” she added.

Sexton 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 that the individuality of a person comes to be recognised through education beyond school.

“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 UAE and Abu Dhabi, have focused on the importance of lifelong learning, because lifelong learning is really the actuation of the gift of life.”

Individual lessons

Tuominen discussed how education should address each person as an individual throughout the lifelong learning experience, how 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 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,” Tuominen said.

Following the talks, Sheikh Abdullah took part in a virtual discussion with the three contributors. They were also joined by five senior members of the Emirates Mars Mission, who detailed how 90 per cent of those working on the programme were graduates from UAE universities and how they worked together to overcome the challenges they faced in the project.