Abu Dhabi, UAE: Naama Al Aryani was no more than a child when she began teaching other children.
She was 13 when she started working as a part-time teacher at an Al Ain school.
But she had wanted to teach before that after inheriting a passion for education from her grandfather. He was a mutawaa, or Quran teacher.
Ms Al Aryani believes she inherited her intelligence and determination from him.
She recalled how her grandfather “was one of the first teachers in the country and was honoured as a teacher at the Khalifa Awards in 1998”.
Her mother, despite being illiterate, also recognised the value of an education and of her daughter’s desire to be a teacher.
After she finished high school, Ms Al Aryani was offered a scholarship to study abroad by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.
“Even though at that time there were many restrictions and limitations on women, my parents understood the value of education and my mother took this as a challenge for me. She trusted my capabilities,” she said. “I studied English first and got a diploma in business administration from the UK, then continued in the US where I got a bachelor’s degree.
“As soon as I came back I worked in the Ministry of Education as the second step in my career.”
Still keen to teach children, Ms Al Aryani enrolled in the UAE University in Al Ain to study for a bachelor’s degree in education and psychology.
“I was a mother, a student and an employee. It was very challenging but my family gave me the strength to continue,” said Ms Al Aryani, who has seven children and seven grandchildren.
In 2009, after 38 years of work in education, she decided to found her own school.
With support from the Khalifa Fund, she set up the Al Surouh American Primary School. It specialises in teaching the English language. “It was a way for me to utilise my work experience. I built a school to firstly implement my knowledge and thus serve my country,” she said.
“I wanted the English language to be a priority because it is the perfect medium to communicate with the many diverse nationalities in the UAE.”
She believes children from the school become “a generation that is able to communicate with confidence in both Arabic and English”.
“It was also a way to benefit from the other nationalities that reside in the country, and also to teach them about our religion and culture.”
In the near future, Ms Al Aryani is planning to expand the education offered at Al Surouh to secondary and high school pupils. “There is also a need for English schools in Al Ain, as most schools are governmental. That will be a future step I am willing to take as well.”
© The National
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