UAE: Humanity skills key to future readiness, says educationist

Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi, Provost & CEO, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia on a visit to Dubai.
Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The increasing thrust on technology in education should not undermine the importance of humanity skills, a top educationist has emphasised.

Speaking to Gulf News, Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi, Provost & CEO, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, who is on a visit to Dubai, said, “Purpose-Driven education is the philosophy that education should focus. It entails three elements: Delivering academic excellence, building character and personal effectiveness, and developing resilience and wellbeing. Anchored by a clear sense of higher purpose, this will deliver success, impact and flourishment. In this context, purpose is defined as a stable and generalised intention to accomplish something that is at once meaningful to the self and consequential to the world beyond the self.”

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

He said Heriot-Watt University has developed the “EmPOWER programme” where students go through four structured leadership stages: Leading Self, Leading Teams, Leading Communities and Leading Enterprise.

“Completing each stage can take up to a year of engagement in volunteering work and other activities to develop the leadership skills and mindsets necessary. A cornerstone of the first stage is the process of discovering and articulating the students’ sense of purpose and writing their impact statements which demonstrate how their work makes a difference in the lives of people, communities, and the environment. Following this, students will work in impact groups of 10 to raise funding for a selected NGO to use entrepreneurial skills to mobilise their purpose into a positive impact on the world.”

Asked what his advice to graduates of the future is, he said, “With the disruption brought about by technologies like AI, the only way to remain future-ready is to focus on the development of humanity skills such as awareness, self-motivation, empathy and purpose. These will be the skills that machines will not be able to provide. So, my advice to our graduates of the future is to discover their purpose, foster their emotional intelligence skills and build positive relationships with others.”