About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4264-4270
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain

THE CHALLENGE OF ALIGNING EDUCATION REFORMS WITH NATIONAL IDENTITY IN THE UAE

F. Badry

American University of Sharjah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has experienced phenomenal transformations in the past four decades both economically and socially. Motivated by the goal to become a global player, the UAE government has invested heavily in all sectors particularly in its educational system (23% of its budget) to ensure that future generations acquire the latest knowledge and skills needed in the global environment (Drzeniek-Hanouz and Yousef, 2007). To reach its educational objectives, the country has adopted educational policies in its higher education that rely on Western experts to reform its curriculum and opted for the use of English as a medium of instruction in its public and private universities. It also encouraged Western universities to set up satellite campuses in educational free zone areas.
The adoption of English as a medium of instruction, in particular, has raised serious concerns about the maintenance and development of Arabic as its national language and its Arab identity under the pressures of globalization.
This paper examines whether the transplantation of Western curricula, western experts and the adoption of English as a medium of instruction to modernize higher education is aligned with the UAE’s official cultural and linguistic identity of being “founded on progressive and moderate Islamic values and endowed with a rich Arabic language, to proudly celebrate Emirati traditions and heritage while reinforcing national identity” (Cabinet releases, Theme 1.4). Using a multidisciplinary approach combining perspectives from education and development models and globalization studies, it offers a critique of the underlying utilitarian approach to higher education (Fagerlind & Saha,1989) and the transplantation of Western curricula to deliver it by addressing two intertwined questions. 1) Does the import of higher education content and administration allow the UAE to prepare its graduates to respond to globalization challenges in their local/national context? 2) Is the adoption of English as the medium of instruction consistent with its declared vision as an Arab nation? The analysis is based on published mission statements, general education curricula and goals from the three public universities in the UAE, complemented with interviews of university executives and my personal experience as an academic and administrator in UAE higher education, for the past 13 years. It concludes by arguing for an alternative humanistic education reform aimed at achieving integrated economic, linguistic, cultural and social goals that correspond to the UAE’s national development vision and adopting an effective dual language education policy that values both Arabic and English.

References:
Cabinet releases UAE Vision 2021 . (2010). UAEinteract. February 7. http://www.uaeinteract.com/docs/Cabinet_releases_UAE_Vision_2021_(full_text)/39555.htm
Drzeniek- Hanouz, M. & Yousef, T. (2007). Assessing competitiveness in the Arab world: Strategies for sustaining the growth momentum. 2006-2007. http://www.weforum.org/pdf/Global_Competitiveness_Reports/Reports/chapters/1_1.pdf
@InProceedings{BADRY2012CHA,
author = {Badry, F.},
title = {THE CHALLENGE OF ALIGNING EDUCATION REFORMS WITH NATIONAL IDENTITY IN THE UAE},
series = {5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2012 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-0763-1},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {19-21 November, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {4264-4270}}
TY - CONF
AU - F. Badry
TI - THE CHALLENGE OF ALIGNING EDUCATION REFORMS WITH NATIONAL IDENTITY IN THE UAE
SN - 978-84-616-0763-1/2340-1095
PY - 2012
Y1 - 19-21 November, 2012
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2012 Proceedings
SP - 4264
EP - 4270
ER -
F. Badry (2012) THE CHALLENGE OF ALIGNING EDUCATION REFORMS WITH NATIONAL IDENTITY IN THE UAE, ICERI2012 Proceedings, pp. 4264-4270.
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