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Abu Dhabi youth council puts education officials on the spot

ABU DHABI // Teachers with a strong grasp of technology and more authority to control unruly classrooms are needed to improve the standard of education.

That was the message for decision-makers at a public event aimed at giving an insight into the classroom.

The Minister of State for Youth Affairs joined officials from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) for a meeting with Emirati students about the state of education.

The discussion at Hamdan bin Zayed School was part of the Emirates Youth Council’s Youth Circles initiative, which gives young people a forum to express their opinions and ideas.

Hamda Yousif suggested teachers receive more training to keep up with the demands of modern education.

“The school curriculum and the technology are updating so quickly, not even the teacher can handle it,” the 17-year-old said after the event.

“The teacher teaches in the same way she was taught in the old times. Not every teacher is capable of teaching with modern technology. I wanted to suggest that they create a teachers’ hub where all they do is teach teachers and make them learn how to use technology.”

Fifteen-year-old Hamed Al Hanaee suggested more be done to encourage Emirati men to become teachers.

“I asked why don’t they put Emirati men to study education to teach us?’ said Hamed, who is in Grade 9 at Hamdan bin Zayed School.

“The Emirati youth would have more of chance, because an Emirati teacher knows what the Emirati student needs and he knows what we think. He understands, because he was once at my level and knows how it feels.”

Noura Al Mansouri, 22, said more needs to be done to empower teachers in the classroom.

“Teachers don’t have the authority like before,” said Ms Al Mansouri. “Okay, we know that students have rights and that teachers should not hit them, but teachers also need rights.

“Now, if you go to schools today you see the students are not listening to the teachers very well, because they know that the teacher doesn’t have the authority to do anything back to them.”

Ms Al Mansouri also questioned the value of teaching the subjects of maths and science in English. These subjects used to be taught in Arabic before Adec introduced the Abu Dhabi School Model in 2009, which reformed the public school curriculum and changed the language of instruction to English in those subjects.

“They made these subjects simple so students can understand it in English, but when it was in Arabic, it was more in-depth,” said Ms Al Mansouri. “The point of teaching science and maths is to teach you science and maths, not to teach you English.”

The forum allowed students to raise concerns or express praise about the country’s schools and universities, said Khaled Al Romaithi, member of the Emirates Youth Council, who moderated the discussion.

“They asked questions directly to the decision makers, which means they receive their answers directly,” said Mr Al Romaithi.

“If we have any challenges, I was able to raise that challenge directly to the decision-maker, so now it’s clear. There is no filtration. There is no missing information along the way.”

Dr Ali Al Nuaimi, Adec director general, fielded most of the dozen or so questions asked over an hour by the audience of about 50 young people.

“This Youth Circle is yet another opportunity given to students to express their opinion on different education-related matters through discussions and promote awareness to ensure academic quality and excellence are maintained across Adec schools,” said Dr Al Nuaimi.

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The National