The nation's globalised children hold promise for the future
It’s a daunting moment for any young mind to contemplate – swapping the comfort and security of home life for the wider world and that first step into the unknown adventures the classroom holds.
As more than one million youngsters make their way to school this week, they do so imbued with a message from the top that the future of the country rests on their young shoulders.
“From your classrooms our dreams will begin,” tweeted Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. “Your school builds you so you can build your country.”
Their collective message was a reminder that the youth of the UAE are a vital thread in its dynamic, multicultural tapestry. Built on the foundational understanding that its most precious asset is its human capital, in the Year of Zayed, the words of the founder have never rung more true. The nation’s “real treasure”, he said, was its children and its future generations.
And for any young child struggling with being parted from their parents for the first time, many schools have schemes to ensure they are not alone, from “buddy” systems and friendship benches to a back to school initiative so that public sector employees can take advantage of flexible working hours and be at the school gates for their children.
This week every child, from the nervous primary school pupil facing their first day in class to the 17-year-old contemplating the next chapter of their story, carries with them inspirational advice from the leadership: work hard, dream big and take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sow the seeds of the future. In the words of Sheikh Mohammed, tomorrow is being written in their notebooks.
It is not just the future of the UAE that is being nourished in the nation’s schools, home to pupils from some 200 countries.
Thanks to a childhood spent in the company of peers from multiple cultures, these so-called “third culture kids” will graduate as global citizens, endowed with a deeper tolerance and understanding of those from different backgrounds. As such, they will be uniquely placed to make the world a better place.
As the UAE turns 47 this year, it will be a time for those pupils to marvel at how much has been achieved in less than a lifetime – and to imagine what might be accomplished in theirs.