The Ministry of Education (MoE) has forged a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC), aimed at developing and implementing initiatives to educate young people and students about environmental protection. The objective is to emphasise their role in shouldering responsibilities, with a focus on preserving wildlife and natural habitats, fostering understanding, and promoting sustainable behavioural change.
The MoU was signed by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of Education, and Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Deputy Chairman of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, in the presence of senior officials from both sides, on the sidelines of the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28).
Dr. Al Falasi underscored the importance of this MoU in equipping young people to take the lead in preserving nature and safeguarding cultural heritage for future generations. The MoU aims to educate and inspire students to specialise in nature conservation and pursue careers in the field. This aligns with the goals of The Year of Sustainability, fostering collaborative efforts to tackle sustainability challenges and implement innovative solutions for a better future for upcoming generations.
Dr. Al Falasi said,
“The Ministry of Education is keen to continue cooperation and coordination with various local and international partners to develop the educational system according to a well-defined strategy to achieve sustainable positive change across all aspects of the educational process. This comprehensive approach encompasses educators, curricula, educational systems, and operational mechanisms, with the ultimate goal of benefiting students and aligning with their visions and aspirations. Moreover, this initiative is in line with the leadership's aspirations to safeguard the UAE's environmental heritage and achieve the objectives outlined in the UAE's Green Agenda 2030.”
Mohamed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Deputy Chairman of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation Board, praised the strategic partnership with the Ministry of Education, which was strengthened by the signing of a memorandum of understanding to frame the cooperation and facilitate the coordination and joint work, 7 years after the launch of the conservation education programme of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, which this year moved to the higher education stage. Al Bowardi expressed his hope that this memorandum will give a strong impetus to the collaborative efforts to implement the National Agenda and Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 in the field of environment and biodiversity, raise awareness of the importance of preserving the Houbara and other wild species and the cultural heritage associated with them, enhance the contribution of education and scientific research in the field of preserving species and the natural environment, and encourage young Emiratis to specialise in scientific fields and prepare them for leadership and responsibility.
Under the MoU, the MoE will partner with IFHC to develop an educational strategy for general and higher education, focusing on scientific research in nature conservation. The MoE will assist the IFHC in curricula and programme development, aligning with the Ministry’s strategies. The partnership will also bolster joint efforts to train national talent, particularly master's and doctoral students. Additionally, the MoE will oversee joint research grants and promote awareness of IFHC's scientific research through publications, including the UAE Innovation Council of the Department of Technology and Scientific Research.
The IFHC will be responsible for updating the Ministry on educational programme developments and jointly establishing an executive plan for universities, higher education institutions, and scientific research on nature conservation. The IFHC will execute the plan in public education, supporting resource production and devising a strategic expansion plan aligned with the Ministry’s strategies. The Fund will enrich national curricula by providing educational materials such as films, stories, and games. Additionally, the IFHC will support innovative environmental protection projects, organise student activities and visits, and offer joint financing for grants and research programmes in accredited higher education institutions, aligning with its goals and strategy.
The MoE had earlier collaborated with IFHC, adopting the latter’s educational project launched in 2018. The Ministry extended direct support and facilities to IFHC's education team, disseminating the programme to all public and private schools, and encouraging widespread participation in implementing the educational initiative across UAE schools. Since its inception in 2018, the programme has engaged more than 46 schools from all emirates. Participating schools have implemented diverse projects focusing on species conservation education, contributing to increased awareness within both the school and local communities.
In line with the MoE's commitment to engaging all government and local entities in the educational system, there is a focus on showcasing the UAE's significant role in species conservation. Notably, the country has been actively involved in global efforts for over four decades, particularly in safeguarding the houbara bustard from the threat of extinction. This commitment is exemplified through a unique and proactive breeding programme for houbara bustards. The initiative involves breeding and subsequently releasing them into the wild through a network of breeding centres, both within and outside the country.
The programme has garnered widespread participation, involving over 36,400 students nationwide. It has also trained 152 educational coordinators and offered support to 358 teachers. Additionally, the initiative has successfully integrated various topics related to the houbara into the national curriculum. The MoE actively engaged in educational events organised by the IFHC, where both entities collaborated in delivering educational and artistic workshops focused on the houbara as part of the Ministry's diverse activities.
News Source: Emirates News Agency