Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 November 2019

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed pays tribute to former teacher

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces shared a decades-old picture of himself with Jasim Ibrahim bou Shaer following his recent death
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has paid tribute to one of his former teachers after his death in Bahrain.Rashed Al Mansoori / Ministry of Presidential Affairs ) ---

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has paid tribute to one his former teachers following his death in Bahrain.

Sheikh Mohamed shared a black and white picture of himself as a young child with Jasim Ibrahim bou Shaer, who taught him during year five at Al Kindi School in Abu Dhabi in 1971, on his Twitter account.

He asked the UAE ambassador to Bahrain, Sheikh Sultan bin Hamdan, who attended the funeral service in Isa Town, south west of the capital Manama, to pass on his condolences to his family.

Fahed bou Shaer, the son of the deceased, spoke of the Emirates as a part of his father's "heart and life", the Arabic newspaper Al Bayan reported.

He said at one point during his stay in hospital, his father awoke believing he was in Abu Dhabi.

The late teacher was one of many who came from Arab states like Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt from the 1950s to establish the first government schools in the Trucial States, as the Emirates were known before the founding of the UAE.

Sheikh Mohamed studied at schools in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, the city of his birth, and also attended Gordonstoun secondary school in Scotland, where he became friends with Prince Andrew.

It was his father, the late President Sheikh Zayed, who set up the first government school in Al Ain. Sheikh Zayed, then the Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region, established Al Nahyaniah primary school in 1959.

Abu Dhabi’s first formal school opened the same year, in a converted warehouse near the current location of the British Embassy. Its only teacher was a Palestinian from Jordan who slept in the building because he had no other accommodation. Pupils received an education in Arabic, with a little English and mathematics.

Government schools had already been set up in Sharjah and Dubai.

Prior to the establishment of modern schools, education for boys and girls was by way of Quran memorisition and the study of the hadeeth in palm frond houses or under sidr trees.

By the time Sheikh Mohamed completed his primary education, a handful of private schools catering to the country’s growing expatriate population were established, including the Indian High School, founded by Maghanmal Pancholia, the Dubai English Speaking School, St. Mary’s Catholic High School, the Pakistan Education Academy and the British School - Al Khubairat.

It was no easy posting for the country’s first teachers, who had low salaries and struggled to find accommodation. But their pupils would be the first generation to travel abroad for post-secondary education and go on to lead the country’s rapid modernisation. Some would go on to be teachers themselves.

Easa Al Nuaimi, one of Ras Al Khaimah's first Emirati school teachers, later recalled it was revolutionary when the first teachers came from other Gulf states with blackboards, textbooks and modern teaching methods.

Formal education came as a result of co-operation between Arab states.

"We wanted for nothing," he said.

"At that time there were so many teachers from Egypt, from Iraq, from Kuwait who came to help teach at these schools. The Arabs were united in one hand at that time."

Updated: June 24, 2019 06:16 PM