Wed, 10/03/2018 - 16:37
Houbara Bustard added to UAE Education Curriculum
ABU DHABI, 3rd October, 2018 (WAM) -- Today in Abu Dhabi, the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) have launched a new education initiative, which will see every schoolchild in the United Arab Emirates taught about conservation through the flagship species of the Houbara bustard. Pupils from selected Abu Dhabi schools joined representatives from both organisations to launch officially the innovative education programme at Jumeirah Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi. In his foreword to the new teacher handbook created for the initiative, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, writes, "We have the right to be proud of the achievements we have made in recent decades. However, the ceiling of our ambitions must not stop at this point. We must learn from these achievements and continue our work with a positive outlook in order to make a difference. One of the living models that we must learn from is the Houbara programme, which is a unique success story following years of experiment, scientific research and technical innovations. Examples like this are the means we need to safeguard our earnings and achieve our goals for the post-oil economy." The Houbara and the conservation programme to conserve the species initiated by the late Sheikh Zayed provide examples used to convey important skills and information to pupils in schools across the UAE. A specially designed handbook and website will provide teachers with the tools to teach multiple subjects across all age groups in the UAE school system. As part of the event, pupils and their teachers from local schools, which participated in the pilot programme of the initiative, presented their projects. Speaking at the launch, Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, UAE Minister of Education, said, "In a highly competitive world, education is the key to excellence, leadership and advancement. This is the framework, which requires us in the Ministry of Education to be committed to developing an innovative, knowledge-based education system suitable for such a competitive world. This system includes all age groups and reflects the values of the nation in building an advanced society based on science, technology, innovation and knowledge." Al Hammadi added, "By incorporating the Houbara programme into the curriculum of the UAE, we honour a national symbol with outstanding contributions to education, development and conservation. By announcing this initiative in the Year of Zayed, we want to build on his wisdom and follow his pioneering initiatives in education linked to heritage, history and natural environment of the country." A pilot programme to test the validity of the initiative ran during the first half of 2018 with the assistance of MoE and the Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) in Abu Dhabi. Seven private and government Cycle 1 - 3 schools, carried out exercises contained within the handbook and, subsequently, provided their feedback. Commenting on the significance of the Houbara to Abu Dhabi, Majid Al Mansouri, Managing Director, International Fund for Houbara Conservation, said: "The Houbara that once sustained our ancestors in the desert, today provides an opportunity for future sustenance for those who wish to learn and gain knowledge. The Houbara is as important as the falcon to our heritage and values. From primary to K-12 every child in the UAE will now get to learn about our environment and the need to protect it and the other species we share the planet with. This programme will produce the conservation leaders of tomorrow who will take forward Sheikh Zayed’s legacy." Launching in the Year of Zayed, the Houbara conservation education initiative reflects the vision and values of the late Founding Father. As Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said in his foreword; "The launch of this educational programme during the Year of Zayed is an extension of his legacy; reflecting the fruits of wisdom he planted on this good land. Perhaps the best celebration of the centennial of his birth is to remain true to the principles he lived by." The programme was officially launched by IFHC’s honourary Ambassadors, Muhra Al Mansouri and Omar Al Marzouqi from Aspen Heights British School, who participated in a ceremonial E-Ribbon cutting on an IPad, which took the teacher website live. The handbook and website are now available to all teachers across schools in every emirate. To participate in the education programme schools should seek approval from MoE and then register their interest with IFHC. Teachers can assess the teaching tools on the secure website via a coordinator appointed in each participating school.