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Three neglected domains

Dec 06,2018 - Last updated at Dec 06,2018

At present, education for employability has become a prime objective. Gone, or almost gone, are the days of education for education’s sake.

To the former end, that of employability, our higher education institutions have done a lot over the years to enable their programmes to be more relevant to market needs: Amending curricula, expanding internships and networking with key players in the business sector, etc.

Much still needs to be done, obviously, but much has materialised.

But employability should also be a prime objective at schools, especially to some professions that need earlier preparation.

There are several of these, but three of them stand out: Sports, music and art.

Sports speak for themselves. There are very many rewarding careers, some extremely so, in a number of games at the national, regional and international levels. As a matter of fact, sports have become a major industry with substantial opportunities for outstanding athletes, in football, basketball, swimming, tennis, track and field, etc.

We have so many talented young men and women who could compete and excel in so many sports, if given the opportunity.

To enable them to do so, we have to do a lot, at several levels.

One key level of action is taking sports seriously at school. Until now, sports are given marginal attention, at best, in our school curricula. Many do not take them seriously, and some still think of sports as a waste of time.

Such shortsightedness is damaging, as it prevents many of our talented young people from pursuing their dreams in what has become a vibrant sector.

The key point here is that any athlete desiring to make it in the sector has to start working on his or her skills early, preferably as early as kindergarten.

By the time prospective athletes are in high school, they have to have mastered all the skills, established their talent and be ready to join a club, or to start competing professionally.

In other words, unlike in the case of many other careers in many other sectors, one cannot start fresh at university level, not even in the later school years.

For this reason, our schools need to integrate sports into their curricula and into their activities, more seriously and systematically than they are doing at present.

As a matter of fact, they need to start treating sports lessons the way they treat math, English and physics.

The same can also apply to music and art.

They also have become huge industries, with great opportunities for our young people. And to excel in them one should also start as early as kindergarten.

Times have changed, and thinking about our school curricula must change. Despite a number of good steps that our Ministry of Education has taken in the realm of curricular reform over the years, the structure of our school curriculum has remained largely the same: Arabic, English, math, social studies, etc.

In light of the so many changes and developments, the curriculum needs to be restructured to make room for the many emerging sectors and domain, among which are those of sports, music and art.

Sooner or later, but better sooner than later, we will have to see more serious steps taken in this direction.

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