Biologically, a woman is known to have become a mother when she gives birth to a child. But this alone does not always make her a strong, caring and good mother. The art and science of mothering is a skill that goes beyond being a gift from life and into the realm of a deep awareness of a child's physical, mental and emotional well-being. By giving her best attention to the child in all these areas, a mother becomes truly great.
Experts believe that mothering is a profession and women need to study and learn how to be mothers.
The University College for Mother and Family Science (UCMFS) in Ajman was established to teach women how to become strong, skilled mothers. Accredited and approved by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education, the UCMF offers women a Bachelor Degree in Motherhood and Family Science. Students must complete a four-year course covering various aspects of mothering in order to earn their degree.
The institution aims to make the best mothers possible out of women by educating and teaching them about different issues and subjects — from their rights in international law and Sharia to subjects that include cooking, tailoring, make-up, hair-dressing, pedicures, nursing, breast-feeding, personal grooming and the art of teaching small children and tackling the issues of domestic help.
Dr Nizar Al Ani, Director of the UCMFS told Gulf News that the idea of establishing the university came up in 1999. "We started working on this important project in 1999 and by 2010, our project came to light."
The Ministry of Higher Education has shown a great interest in the project, he added. "Our programmes and topics at the university were studied carefully by the Ministry of Higher Education because they are related to the important field of families and mothering. So it took many years to have our university ready."
Dr Al Ani believes establishing such a university in the region is important due to the many serious issues confronting the society.
"We offer a four-year study programme. We have 137 female students of 14 different nationalities, 80 per cent of who are working mothers," he said.
Dr Al Ani said this is the first educational institution in the world to offer a bachelor's degree in the mother and family area. He believes that being a good mother is not just a gift of nature but also a skill that needs to be studied.
"We decided to establish this important university because we have noticed that the divorce rate is very high in the region," said Dr Al Ani. "Also, domestic help problems are on the rise. Eighty per cent of the families in the Gulf area rely on domestic help to raise their children," he added.
There is a minimum of two domestic helpers in the homes of Emirati families, he said.
"This reliance [on domestic help] is very dangerous, and there is a need to raise awareness among women on such matters by preparing and educating them on the right ways to raise a healthy family," he said.
The mother and family science holds particular significance in Arab, Gulf and Muslim societies, Dr Al Ani said, because of the societal changes taking place all over the world which lead to a generation gap.
Mothers need to be aware of these changes and gaps in order to effectively bridge them.
One of the unusual things in this batch of students is the enrolment of a mother and daughter duo for the four-year course.
"The mother is 44 and her daughter in her twenties and they both want to pursue a degree in mothering and family sciences," said Dr Al Ani.