Education plays a big role in our lives. From the first day at kindergarten to a later crossroad, as an adolescent applying to our dream university, the sentiments are intense and the experiences unforgettable.
This is no different within the NRI community. As father to two young men, Avi and Vir aged 15 and 13, education has been the most discussed topic at home lately. Thankfully, it has been a much easier conversation than it was for me as I resisted becoming a doctor or an engineer, a dream my (and several) parents in India had for their sons back then. Born and raised in Dubai, Avi wants to join the army while Vir wants to open a small multi-cuisine bistro.
What’s endearing is the clarity and pragmatism in NRI children today, as they recognise that they will need to complete a series of actions to achieve their goals, such as completing their education or working in different jobs. As parents, this confidence and commitment brings renewed focus to help them realise their potential.
Here are four ways we can help our children have an enriched education:
While academic excellence is still the main criteria for success within NRI parents, it’s essential to develop our children’s ethical sense in their formative years.
Fundamentally, the virtues we hope our children to have, such as punctuality, honesty, generosity and patience, should be modelled by us as parents. With over 200 nationalities residing here*, children in the UAE have a unique and inherent advantage to be able to interact with a diverse set of people. This exposure serves as a powerful teacher of respect and tolerance from a young age. Schools here also encourage participation in CSR or volunteering in community initiatives, a great way to inculcate a progressive value system in children.
The inclusion of non-academic learning within their curriculum is a worthy consideration for us as NRI parents to channel our children’s physical, mental and emotional energy constructively. To this effect, the importance of sports, music or vocational education cannot be underestimated.
Sports provides an avenue for children to challenge themselves physically and mentally while enhancing their agility, fitness, determination and focus. If it’s not part of their education programme, there are many external classes around the country to choose from to pursue a sport. It can even be as simple as playing a sport together as a family or joining the neighbourhood cricket or football team.
Similarly, recognising the importance of music education can go a long way in helping children conduct their passionate side through artistic expression. And before they go to college or university, consider strengthening their financial literacy or the importance of vocational education through work experience, a great way to boost their confidence by giving them a taste of the corporate life.
At Zurich, we are passionate about empowering the youth to realize their potential, be it through work experience or sports. The recent Zurich Pace Lab extends from this philosophy helping talented young bowlers advance their fast bowling skills in cricket, the most enjoyed sport within the NRI community.
As parents, it’s key to recognize the importance of being involved in your child's education. Regular progress updates, study plans, and maintaining healthy parent-teacher relationships, can help create a more positive learning experience and outcome for them.
While it’s key to not over-indulge, steady involvement not only helps understand their strengths and weaknesses but serves as meaningful guidance when advising them on higher education or career goals, arguably the most important topics of discussion for NRI families.
Fortunately, NRIs are ingrained with a savings discipline, a prerequisite to securing the type of education we want for our children. But are we on-track to ensure they can make it all the way through to university?
Initiatives like the SDPC (Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children**), introduced to financially support NRI students through scholarships, are valuable to leverage if eligible, but there are hidden costs to consider such as accommodation, tuitions, food and travel. Lifestyle in the UAE can be expensive, highlighting the importance of saving for education with discipline. Learn about savings and investments and use our simple education calculator to give you a sense of how much to save. And think about a suitable savings vehicle to take you there
With a promising and spirited generation ahead of us, the importance of education that’s multi-dimensional for our NRI children must be well considered. Balanced exposure, holistic learning, steady involvement and financial protection are key levers to nurturing the passion of our youth as they set out to become leaders of tomorrow.
* Source: https://gulfnews.com/going-out/society/what-makes-uae-a-role-model-of-cohesion-1.1836341
** Source: https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/education/nri-students-can-avail-scholarships-in-india-for-2019-20-academic-year
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