During a visit to the Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Secondary School for Sciences on Monday 19th June 2023 in Kigarama Sector, Kicukiro District, Amb. Alqahtani interacted with students and teachers, taking the opportunity to highlight the UAE’s efforts in the education sector.
Education has always been a top priority for the UAE, as emphasized by its founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The late Sheikh Zayed believed that investing in education was the best use of wealth, creating generations of educated and trained individuals.
The UAE’s focus on education extends to both men and women, with significant progress made over the years. In 1975, adult literacy rates stood at 54% for men and 31% for women. Today, literacy rates for both genders are close to 95%.
Emirati women, in particular, have excelled in higher education, with 77% of them enrolling after completing secondary school. Furthermore, women constitute 70% of all UAE national university graduates, and 46% of graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are women.
According to Amb. Alqahtani, the UAE National Strategy for Higher Education aims to equip future generations with the necessary technical and practical skills to drive the country’s economy in both the public and private sectors.
This initiative has been extended to other countries through scholarship programs offered to foreign students at UAE universities. These students, upon completion of their degrees, return to their home countries to contribute to their respective economies.
The UAE’s vision is for its students to be the best in the world in reading, mathematics, and science, and the Ambassador expressed his desire for the Rwandan students he addressed to strive for excellence in their science classes.
The UAE has developed student exchange programs, allowing Emirati students to gain enriching academic, professional, and personal experiences by spending time in other countries. Additionally, students from around the world have the opportunity to apply for exchange programs in UAE schools, providing them with diverse educational and cultural experiences.
In a short period, the UAE has established an excellent and diverse higher education system. With over 100 public and private institutions, including local and international campuses, such as the Sorbonne Abu Dhabi University, New York University, and the American University of Sharjah, the UAE offers a wide range of educational opportunities.
Scholarships have been provided to Rwandan students at these universities, including the UAE University and Sorbonne Abu Dhabi University, for those who have excelled in their secondary education.
The UAE has been actively supporting education in Rwanda for several years. The Al Maktoum Foundation has funded two secondary schools, including the Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Girls Secondary School for Sciences in Muhanga. Moreover, the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation has provided full support to the Islamic Secondary School for Sciences and the Islamic Cultural Center for the past 14 years.
As part of joint efforts to support the education sector in Rwanda, the UAE Government has awarded scholarships to outstanding Rwandan students in various UAE universities through the UAE Technical Assistance Program.
Since 2018, twenty students from Rwanda have received UAE Government scholarships at the UAE University, pursuing disciplines such as Architecture, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Biology, Biochemistry, and Computer Science. In 2019, an additional ten Rwandan students were granted full scholarships to pursue bachelor’s degree programs at Sorbonne Abu Dhabi University.
Speaking to students and teachers, Amb. Alqahtani affirmed his country’s commitment to continue providing opportunities to the best performing Rwandan students.
“I want to reiterate that the UAE is fully committed to ensure that not only its citizens should have access to the best educational opportunities, and my country in cooperation with Rwanda, is willing to give the most talented students access to higher education in internationally recognized universities in the UAE,” he noted.
After the interactive discussions, Amb. Hazza Alqahtani awarded seven academically best performing students with Samsung smart phones.
UAE is a country in Western Asia, founded in 1971. It consists of seven Emirates, with Abu Dhabi as the capital and Dubai as the economic capital. The UAE has a population of around 10 million, with 90% being expatriates. Its main exports are oil, natural gas, pearls, and precious metals/stones.