Improvements to health care and increase in retirement age for Emiratis discussed

The Ministerial Council for Services discussed the national plan for the elderly presented by the Ministry of Social Affairs, which estimates that the proportion of elderly citizens will rise to 6 per cent in 2017 and 11 per cent in 2023.

Better health care means that older Emiratis will constitute a growing proportion of the population in years to come, with the accompanying need to provide for them and ensure the rights of the elderly. Sammy Dallal / The National
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ABU DHABI // Ministers are considering proposals to improve health care for elderly Emiratis and increase the retirement age.

The new plans come amid estimates that the proportion of elderly citizens will rise to 6 per cent in 2017 and 11 per cent in 2023.

The proposals aim to provide comprehensive health care for the elderly, to ensure their integration into the community, to provide a level of income that will allow for decent living and guarantee elderly people’s rights.

The Ministerial Council for Services, chaired by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, heard that a growing elderly population is expected be in good health because of the medical services now available to them.

This means they will be more able to work, which will entail the provision of employment opportunities or extending the retirement age from the current 65.

The Council also discussed a number of operational policies proposed by the Ministry of Education.

The first policy proposed removing pupils’ right to select their curriculum in secondary education.

The curriculum offers a choice of a science or literature stream. Most pupils, especially boys, choose literature.

This leads to limited choices of study at university and choices that do not fit with the requirements of the labour market, the Council heard.

The Council also discussed policies for the elimination of the foundation year at universities, presented by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education.

The Minister of Higher Education, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak, confirmed last month that the foundation year would be scrapped in 2018, after the decision to do away with it was taken at a Cabinet retreat at the end of last year.

Its abolition will require major changes in the curriculum for the final three years of secondary school to prepare pupils for university education.

The Council reviewed plans proposed during the next phase to implement programmes and materials that will improve and strengthen the knowledge base of high school graduates about to enrol at university.

The Council discussed two recommendations of the Federal National Council – the first on strengthening national identity and the second a recommendation on the policy of the Ministry of Public Works regarding the construction of public housing and maintenance of federal roads.

The recommendations included the development of mechanisms and policies to ensure that every citizen is entitled to Government housing suitable for them and not restricted by marital status.