Education chief calms concern over bad effects of globalisation

The Government wants to strengthen pupils' connection with the nation's historic and cultural identity.

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ABU DHABI // The Government wants to strengthen pupils' connection with the nation's historic and cultural identity while encouraging "openness" to other countries and traditions, Humaid al Qattami, the Minister of Education, said yesterday. "The Ministry is keen to promote the national identity, whether through the taught curricula or extra-curricula activities, to enhance the feeling of belonging to, and appreciation of, the nation among pupils," Mr al Qattami said.

His comments to the Federal National Council (FNC) came in response to questions about his ministry's efforts to combat the adverse effects of globalisation. The term globalisation usually describes the process by which the world's economies, societies, and cultures are becoming integrated through a globe-spanning network of trade and communication. Mr al Qattami said it was imperative that positive aspects of globalisation, such as the appreciation of other societies and ways of life, were encouraged among schoolchildren.

He said school celebrations for this year's National Day were designed to bolster the "connection to the nation as well as openness to other cultures", and added that those values were also promoted among pupils on other such occasions. Sultan al Kubaisi, a FNC member from Umm al Qaiwain who attended yesterday's meeting, has voiced concern that schools do not protect pupils from the negative aspects of globalisation, and of his worry over children's extensive use of the internet.

Last month, he said his fears were particularly relevant here, given the population imbalance, where only 16.5 per cent of residents are Emiratis. "With the stunning development in the UAE, the various nationalities living here and the internet, how can we protect our national identity?" Mr al Kubaisi asked at the time. Mr al Qattami said exposure to technology, particularly the internet, was tightly controlled in schools.

"We co-ordinate with parents in order to protect the pupils" against over-exposure to technology, he added. Mr al Kubaisi asked yesterday: "What are the school curricula that make pupils aware of the dangers of globalisation?" Mr al Qattami said: "The national curricula have been developed to assert a number of principles, including the Islamic faith and its laws, humanist values, openness to others, the Arabic language, the uniqueness of each society and cultural diversity."

He added that whenever the ministry introduced curricular change, it carried out seminars and workshops to familiarise teachers with the new elements. "We need to protect our children from the effects of importing other cultures and we need to protect our own culture. We don't want to be imitators," said Mr al Kubaisi.