The development of human capital is a continuous challenge that begins in the early stages of childhood, when skills and competencies are formed, and continues through the higher education levels. Educating the younger generation is pivotal to the continued progress of the nation," said Dr Abdul Moneim M. Othman, Director of Unesco Regional Bureau for Education in Arab countries.
He warned that some of the elements of the traditional education system may no longer be adequate to sustain the rapid pace of development of the economy and society. In 2002, the UN issued a human development report for Arab countries that shed light on education and the economy.
"This report revealed that the Arab world, in general, had little to no impact on scientific development. Although the Arab world constitutes five per cent of the world's population, it only produces 1.1 per cent of the total books. The UAE had only 39 patents between 2006 and 2010," said Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, director general of Adec.
"Studies showed that 50 per cent of the economical development and progress is related to knowledge. The UAE took great strides to move to a knowledge- based economy," he added.
The UN Human Development Index for 2010 ranked the UAE the first regionally and 32nd in the development of its people. The UAE recognises that progress depends on the development of human capital and puts in place a strategic framework for development of skills needed in the 21st century. "The traditional model of classroom teaching can be modified to increase the effectiveness of education," Dr Osman said.
"This involves revamping the teaching style into a more interactive approach, where all those with vested interest cooperate as a team — this includes, parents, teachers, and administrators," he added.
Use of modern approaches to teaching focuses on helping students' creativity and independent thinking rather than simple memorising (traditional approach) is crucial to the success of the education system. "We need a system that focuses on teachers, students, assessment systems, family support and reform of the curriculum," said Al Khaili.
Dr Abdul Salam Al Majali, former prime minister of Jordan, said the current system does not help our students develop a level of creativity. "It is based on an authoritarian and memory techniques that do not serve well in supporting a flexible economy and a world based on knowledge," he said
"The current system has not yielded high performance levels in science and maths. This is amplified at higher education levels, where our students struggle to succeed in scientific curriculums in international colleges. UAE yields less doctors, engineers and scientists than other advanced nations," Al Majali said.