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Sustainability will soon be part of UAE school curriculum


Ministry of Education partners with Emirates Foundation for Youth Development

April 17, 2014 10:39 by

The Ministry of Education in partnership with the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development announced plans earlier today, April 16, to introduce sustainability and financial literacy into the school’s curriculum, from kindergarten to year 12.

The integration of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into the school curriculum is still in the early stages and not all aspects have been confirmed yet. The initial stages of workshops and pilot planning have already been completed and the team are now in phase three, which involves structuring the curriculum. Pilot projects may begin in September with just a small number of schools.

According to the model presented by the ministry in conjunction with the Emirates Foundation, topics will be contextually relevant to learners in the UAE, which will include water, energy and climate among others. According to Maytha Al Habsi, the chief programs officer of the Emirates Foundation, there is another aspect to sustainability – financial literacy. She says sustainability involves making resources last longer, which includes monetary resources.

“Research reveals that 70 per cent of our youth are in debt and that is a serious problem. So we have to teach them how to manage that,” Al Habsi tells

She adds: “It takes much more to develop your own youth than just feeding them the classic curriculums in the school system.” She explains that new concepts needed to be embedded in learning systems to enable the transition from an Emirati citizen to a “global citizen”.

According to Al Habsi, this was the first official signing between the Ministry of Education and the Emirates Foundation, which is funded by the private sector. However, the two have previously collaborated on many projects.

The Minister of Education, H.E. Hameed Mohammad Al Qattami , said: “We rely on the Emirates Foundation to support the ministry’s efforts and plans directed towards building a base of qualified and responsible Emirati future leaders who are confident about shaping their future and will participate effectively in the process of advancing their country armed with noble values and a great sense of self-fulfillment.”

Also at the helm of the project is Ann Finlayson, the founding member of registered charity, Sustainability and Environmental Education. She says that with the pressing issues of climate change, water conservation, poverty and standards of living, most young people are very worried about their future. “UK surveys reveal that 80 per cent of students are very interested in learning about sustainability”, she says, adding that similar studies are needed in the UAE. According to Finlayson, ESD is already part of schools’ curriculum in some countries such as the UK, Singapore and Finland.

“Some UAE schools are trying to include it in their lesson plans or as extra-curricular activities, but it’s not really embedded into the curriculum,” she explains.

When the new curriculum will be officially introduced has not yet been decided.


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