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Saturday 31 July ,2021

The National Archives evokes and recalls the "Early Formal Education in the Emirates" in a virtual interactive discussion session

The National Archives evokes and recalls the "Early Formal Education in the Emirates" in a virtual interactive discussion session

    As part of a its knowledge and cultural activities, and its national role and mission to eduacate future generations about the UAE history, the National Archives organized a virtual interactive discussion session entitled: "The Early Formal Education in the Emirates- Interviews with the Early Teachers". The session discussed the impact of education on the Emirates region.

   The National Archives sought to discuss and tackle this journey that goes back about 68 years to remind generations how the educational process developed and advanced since its early stages, and how the UAE shifted from “traditional education” of limited oral and written contexts to a modern“formal education” since 1953 with the establishment of Al Qasimia School in the Emirate of Sharjah. Following which establishment in 1971,  the UAE witnessed tremendous civilizational transformation that duly brought about an unparalleled openness through which the UAE, lead the innovations and smart education era, and invaded space, and became an icon of science and knowledge, and a leading country and a role model in educational and cultural enlightenment in the region, in less than 50 years after its estalishment.

At the beginning of the session, Dr. Mohammed Faris Al-Faris, a Historian and Researcher Specialized in the history of the UAE and the Gulf region, praised the efforts of the National Archives and the great services it provides to researchers, through offering them easy access to all specialized sources and references, and the various needed historical documents on the history of the UAE, the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula regions.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Faris stressed that the introduction of formal education resulted in breaking the isolation and seclusion the Emirates region had suffered from since 1820, following the general agreement’s conclusion with its Rulers. Before, the Emirates did not have any links with their Arab surroundings, and when formal education was introduced there, it was an overlooked and almost forgotten region, as the Arab world was preoccupied with many issues, at the forefront of which was the struggle for liberation from colonialism; Thus, the formal education which started in the Emirates in 1953 was a major shift and a quantum leap from complete seclusion and isolation to wide openness and receptiveness to its Arab surroundings which- according to British documents - led to confrontations and clashes between the British on one hand and the teachers and students on the other, this was confirmed by some of the teachers with whom Dr. Al-Fares met upon conducting his research.

The session indicated that traditional education in the Emirates before 1953 was limited to teaching religion, Arabic language, and Mathematics principles, and did not tackle or address any historical or political aspects. Then Kuwait began opening schools in the Emirates, and "semi-formal education" began, after which “formal education” was introduced in 1953, and after the British saw Kuwait rushing to help the emirates in developing education, they offered modest contribution, namely, some simple educational facilities, and also suggested that technical education replace formal education, so it established two schools: the Industrial School In Sharjah, and the Agricultural School in Ras al-Khaimah, but technical education would not have been a suitable and effective substitute or alternative to formal education.

It is noteworthy that the Researcher, Dr. Mohammed Al-Faris met a group of the early teachers who had remarkable efforts in establishing formal education in the Emirates since 1953 and teaching in its schools, including Emirati teachers who worked side by side with their fellow Arab teachers, such as: Ali bin Mohammed Al-Mahmoud, whose father played a role in establishing Al-Islah (Reform) School in the 1930s, which as managed bt the Principal Ahmed Bu Rahima, and its staff included local teachers, , namely: Ali bin Rashid Al Owais, Ali Al Ghanim, Abdullah Al Qaiwan, Ismail Abdullah, and Jassem Al Midfa. As for the most prominent Arab teachers who came to the Emirates and were recruited for its early semi-formal then formal education, they were: Zuhdi Al-Khatib, Jawdat Al-Barghouthi, Ahmed Qassem Al-Borini, Mustafa Youssef Taha, and Muhammad Diab Al-Mousa. The Researcher, Dr. Mohammed Al-Faris obtained from them many photos, and great information that tackle and shed light on the details of such an important stage in the history of the Emirates.

The discussion session’s audience interactively asked many questions pertaining to the educational field’s various aspects since its its introduction in the UAE.

It is note worthy that the National Archives has prepared a full program of conferences, seminars, discussion sessions and lectures, on various cultural and historical topics, and just recently it virtually held its first translation conference which was a the greatest specialized translation conference the UAE has witnessed in the last two decades, as it brough together various renowned Researchers, Specialists and Experts from all over the world.

The National Archives of the UAE:

The National Archives of the UAE was established in 1968 under the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, upon directives from the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, with the aim of collecting and documenting material relating to the history and heritage of the UAE and the Gulf region. Forty years after its inception, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, issued the Federal Law No. (7) of 2008 changing its name to be the National Center for Documentation and Research, entrusted with organizing the archives of the UAE government entities, later H.H. Issued an amending order to change its name to be the "National Archives" in accordance with Federal Law No. 1 of 2014.