Constant pursuit of knowledge key for success: Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed Ramadan Series 2021

ABU DHABI, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, brought this year’s Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed Ramadan Series to a close last night with a discussion on the importance of lifelong education to secure the development of both the individual and society.

Titled ‘Lifelong Learning: Unlocking our future Potential,’ the talk featured an inspiring discussion between Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, Chair of the UAE Space Agency, Chair of the UAE Council of Scientists and Deputy Project Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission, Professor John Sexton, President Emeritus of New York University Abu Dhabi and Saku Tuominen, Founder and CEO of HundrED, global non-profit education organisation dedicated to helping children flourish.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah shared his own views on the topic, commenting: “There is no doubt that education nowadays is not only an essential requirement to finding a job, or gaining a certain skill, but it is essential to having a vibrant life that contributes to boosting our motivations. It increases our understanding of each other, our understanding of society, and also increases our passion for knowledge.”

Al Amiri described the journey of the Mars Mission from its inception to reaching the Red Planet, saying that it was continuous learning that was the essence of the programme’s success.

“We started our work as a small team at the Emirates Mars Mission. A very small team, especially at the beginning of the project at the end of 2013. It was just an idea; how could the UAE reach Mars? As the years went by, with the approach we followed to develop this outer space exploration mission, which was a unique approach compared to any previous space missions – whether to Mars or any other planet in our Solar System – we faced considerable challenges,” said Al Amiri.

“However, these challenges were an unrivalled opportunity to learn. No matter how hard it got, or how hard it was to find a solution for the challenges we faced, whether they were technical or administrative challenges in the project, we realised after we successfully overcame these challenges what we had learned from them. The lessons we had learned from them, and the experience we had gained from them, were invaluable,” she added.

Professor John Sexton discussed how education should draw out from each individual what their capacities are. This, he said, is done in a generally uniform way through primary and secondary education, but that the individuality of a person comes to be recognised through education beyond school, when they either go to college or university, or – if this form of education is not suitable for them – when they undertake vocational training to learn specific skills.

“Each student is a wonderful gift of creation and he or she has capacities that have to be brought out by education.” He added “I applaud the fact that the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi, have focused on the importance of lifelong learning, because lifelong learning is really the actuation of the gift of life. And it creates for us a beautiful symphony, created by all the piano notes we come to play.”

Saku Tuominen, discussed how education should address each person as an individual throughout the lifelong learning experience, how the emotional aspect of learning is just as important as the provision of knowledge, and how the welfare of the teachers should also be paramount.

“All the improvements have to be win-win, meaning that that you have to be improving excellence and the capabilities for learning, but you also have to take care of social, emotional learning and holistic well-being. You should be discussing, together with the teachers, with the students, you should understand what out of these possibilities could work best in your own country, and then you should have patience to implement them extremely well, taking care of the well-being not only of the students, but also of the teachers as well,” said Saku Tuominen.

Following the talks, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah took part in a wide-ranging virtual discussion with the three contributors to the episode. They were also joined by five senior members of the Mission to Mars project, who detailed how 90 percent of those working on the programme were graduates from UAE universities and who outlined how they worked together as a team to overcome the challenges they faced in the project. Other aspects of the conversation with the various contributors touched upon issues that included how the family constituted the first ‘classroom’ and how parents need to have a growth mindset if they are to be effective teachers for their children.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, this year’s edition of the Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed Ramadan Series was held in conjunction with the UAE’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Community members were encouraged to watch the episodes and engage with the topics, each one being presented by a number of experts pre-eminent in their respective fields.

The three other topics covered in Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed Ramadan Series this year were ‘Human Fraternity and Peaceful Coexistence,’ ‘Global Health’ and ‘Community Resilience.’ Each subject was selected with the aim of stimulating thought and discussion on important social aspects during the holy month, a traditional time for reflection and a focus on the community.

There will be a rerun of the fourth episode airing on Wednesday at 5:45 PM on Emarat TV. All four episodes of Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed Ramadan Series are available on the MBZ Majlis YouTube Channel.

Source: Emirates News Agency

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