Abu Dhabi: Schools across the country must now offer Moral Education as a mandatory subject and part of their curricula, following a directive issued on Wednesday by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The subject must focus on the teaching of five key elements — ethics, personal and community development, culture and heritage, civic education and human rights and responsibilities. Its inclusion in the curriculum will be overseen by the UAE Ministry of Education, the Abu Dhabi Education Council and other educational authorities in the country.
A committee will also be formed to develop the basis and criteria of Moral Education as a subject, and ensure that it remains in line with the UAE’s cultural identity, customs and tradition. In addition, the committee will contribute to the efforts of various institutions to integrate the content into the national education curriculum.
Speaking on the occasion of the launch, Shaikh Mohammad said that the development of a nation is largely dependant on how well it preserves its values and morals, regardless of its level of achievement and sophistication.
He added that the UAE is unique in its legacy of conserving its cultural identity and moral values, including tolerance, respect, cooperation, community service, charity and sacrifice.
Education plays a growing role in creating future generations that are proactive, ambitious and fair in their dealings, Shaikh Mohammad said.
“Through reinforcing values that have enabled the UAE to become what it is now, and by highlighting our national role models and their remarkable achievements, we hope to pass on these [valuable] lessons to future generations,” he said.
He also stressed that families play a pivotal role in driving Moral Education learning forward.
At present, most schools in the UAE do provide lessons in Islamic Studies, and some private schools also designate time for the learning of other faiths. However, there is little formal teaching of universal human values. Comments from schools were not available as educational institutions are on summer break.
Shaikh Mohammad’s Twitter announcements on the inclusion of Moral Education in the national curriculum were instantly shared hundreds of times.
Parents who spoke to Gulf News also lauded the initiative, saying it was very timely in a world undergoing much turmoil.
“Moral Education is perhaps the most important subject for our children to do well in life. They must learn proper discipline and rightful behaviour, especially as any other education without these values is useless,” Maitha Al Mazroui, an Emirati communications manager and mother-of-two, told Gulf News.
“The UAE already leads the way in being a hub of tolerance, and moral values at school will simply help the country maintain this lofty position,” she said.
Al Mazroui also feels that it is important for schools to teach Moral Education as a separate subject.
“This way, there will be more focus on these important personal skills. As parents, we try to model good behaviours as much as possible, but the fact remains that children spend most of their alert, waking hours at school. So this will be the best time for them to learn about morality,” she explained.
Rashid Al Shamsi, 43, an Emirati patient relationship manager and father of four, said the initiative should be lauded.
“The world is so fast-paced and many families have both parents working. So, schools can play an important role in imparting moral values and helping children differentiate between right and wrong,” he said.
Omran Al Khoury, a 35-year-old Emirati businessman, added that he would work as a parent to support this step.
“It is important for children to understand the important of character traits like respect, tolerance and humanity, and learning specifically about them will provide an opportunity for children to practise. In my opinion, children in the UAE will be lucky to have some time allocated only for the learning of these values,” he said.