Why multicultural education is vital to our future

The multicultural educational environment in the UAE stands children in good stead to be tolerant and flexible members of society, writes Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak.

Aldar academies students reap great benefits from the multicultural educational environment. Photo: Ravindranath K / The National
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Knowledge drives progress and serves as the pathway to economic and social advances. Our success as a nation depends on the attention and resources devoted to the education of our youth.

I chair an education provider where students are given the opportunity to appreciate global perspectives on learning, while staying rooted in the cultural aspects of the UAE.

By using the English National Curriculum adapted especially for the UAE, our commitment is to create a platform for Emirati and expatriate students to learn skills that put them on a path for future leadership. By giving expatriate students a chance to learn about the UAE and its culture, we are also cultivating ambassadors for our country.

Reading books by authors from different countries, learning diverse languages and socialising with a range of nationalities within a school environment, all help students appreciate the pluralistic nature of our world and the inherent values of the cultures they meet.

According to the National Association for Multicultural Education, a non-profit organisation based in the US, students learning within a culturally diverse environment develop a positive self-image and better ways of thinking that ultimately develop their sense of self and value for society. Our students at Aldar Academies represents more than 100 countries from around the world. We are proud to be enablers of this type of diverse thinking.

Further research from the Association for the Advancement of Sciences, another American non-profit organisation, points to an array of benefits attached to multicultural education. These include the promotion of cognitive and moral growth, the development of problem-solving skills and positive relationships with other students, a decrease in stereotyping and prejudice, and an increase in productivity through the diversity of mental resources.

What this means is students grow up with better perspectives on many issues. Rather than confining themselves to their respective cultures, they become open to the interchangeable nature of society. Children are able to identify with other cultures regardless of their differences and are presented with these differences in a healthy and educated environment.

This helps develop strong leaders who can flourish in different settings. The universality of education allows different people from different places to benefit and through that, creates unity despite differences. Students also become more enlightened.

At the same time, giving students a chance to delve into their own culture gives them a heightened sense of self-respect and value. Ultimately, students are given the chance to lead within the bounds of their culture and traditions, while also being able to easily adapt to international environments. Through this, the knowledge they gain becomes a tool of power and expansion, originating from the UAE to the world.

We recognise that knowledge and education learnt in a multicultural setting, is the driving force behind global coexistence, collaboration and successful leadership.

It is with this in mind that we continue to cultivate individuals and inculcate in them, skills and abilities with which they can be prepared for the future.

Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak is chairman of Aldar Academies, an education provider in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain