What You Need to Know about the UAE’s Moral Education Initiative
By Anna Murphy, Rubicon International
The United Arab Emirates began piloting its Moral Education program in January 2017, and by September 2017, implementation is expected across schools in the UAE for grades K-9 (the rollout of Grades 10-12 will begin early 2018).
As schools begin the process of familiarizing teachers with the new initiative and developing curriculum aligned to the standards, several questions are likely to arise: One, what is the purpose of this initiative? Two, how are the standards structured? Three, how can we sufficiently demonstrate its integration within our curriculum? This blog post aims to answer these questions.
1. What is the purpose of the Moral Education initiative?
The Moral Education initiative is a K-12 program aimed at preparing students in line with the UAE’s Vision 2021, which seeks “an ambitious and confident people, a strong federation, a competitive economy and a good quality of life in a generous and sustainable environment”.
The initiative aims to prepare a well-educated human capital and a tolerant population capable of sustaining the UAE’s economic and cultural accolades into the future.
Specifically, the Ministry of Education identifies its needs as to:
- “Sustain society’s remarkable features of tolerance, openness, acceptance and respect of the other which have developed over the past few decades• Sustain society’s remarkable features of tolerance, openness, acceptance and respect of the other which have developed over the past few decades
- Preserve and engrain the nation’s longstanding and unique traditions, heritage, culture, values and moralities and tap into its reservoir of moral wisdom (history, art, literature, stories)
- Foster the ways youth in the UAE deal with the melange of cultures and beliefs that coexist in the country; prepare them to make morally sound decisions and deal with challenges that inevitably arise through this exceptional mixture of values, views and ideologies
- Reinforce the UAE’s successes in areas related to human capital development by preparing generations of responsible and resilient youth who know their rights and responsibilities and can productively contribute to their communities as well as to the sustainability of the nation’s developmental efforts”
Under the guidance of the Moral education program, graduates are intended to:
- “Understand and appreciate their own local heritage and culture
- Understand and appreciate their own local heritage and culture
- Are armed with the knowledge, resources and skills that allow them to make good, well informed and responsible judgments about challenging matters of moral importance
- Understand their civic system, rights and responsibilities and are aware of the role they need to play to support and sustain the nation’s developmental efforts”
2. How are the Moral Education standards structured?
The Moral Education centers on four pillars:
- Character and Morality
- The Individual and the Community
- Civic Studies
- Cultural Studies
The pillars are divided into 5-6 units intended to be taught at specific grade levels.
For example: Character and Morality holds two units at the first grade level: “Fairness, Affection” and “Caring, Honesty”. And, each unitized pillar has grade specific standards intended to guide instruction.
3. How can we sufficiently demonstrate its integration within our curriculum?
There are several ways to incorporate Moral Education into your school’s curriculum. Using Atlas, we have seen schools:
1. Create Moral Education-specific courses. In this approach, Moral Education is its own unique subject area. The benefit of this is teachers can explicitly teach the units outlined by the Ministry of Education.
2. Introduce Moral Education into existing curriculum by creating a Moral Education-specific category(s) within your unit planner. For example, Moral education standards can be filtered into their own standards drop down and a blank text box added for teachers to ideate how the standards will be incorporated within the unit. The benefit of this approach is there is no need to create entire new courses, and instead use existing curriculum to get started.