Muscat: Shooting, marching and navigation are just some of the skills schoolchildren will be offered next summer as part of a government drive to introduce military education in schools.
The Council of Ministers, at a meeting held earlier this week, discussed the plan for upgrading the education sector in collaboration with government organisations. “The council underlined the significance of collaboration of government establishments to upgrade the educational sector, address its challenges and contribute to the success of its strategies and programme,” said the Council of Ministers’ statement.
“It was agreed that the Ministry of Education would coordinate with other departments concerned to introduce military education programmes in schools,” the statement added.
“It also aims to expand the base of students enrolled in these programmes,” added the statement.
Sheikh Saudi Al Azri, Advisor to the Minister of Education, said that the programme is planned to begin next summer and will take five weeks to complete. He added that only male children will be eligible to enrol.
“It is not a mandatory programme but there are requirements that students must pass to be eligible to enter. Of course the student will have to go through a medical check up to make sure he is free from illnesses and diseases,” said Al Azri.
He said that the students will learn skills and develop talents with regards to military aspects as well as learn the army norms and practices.
“There will also be programmes regarding discipline and marching,” he said. Shooting, navigation and running the obstacle course are among the many courses planned during the programme.
Students will receive a certificate from their camp that states that they have completed the training course.
“The certificate qualifies the student should he feel that he would like to pursue a career in the military,” explained Al Azri.
Speaking to Timam Al Mugheiry, a Sultan’s School graduate of 2007 who, among 30 students from that school, volunteered to undergo military training for 3 weeks during their mid-term break, said that it taught him more discipline and other things that he would not otherwise learn in school.
“As a student, my benefit was probably the discipline and learning skill sets that just aren’t taught in a school environment,” said Al Mugheiry.
“It was also a strong bonding experience. The classmates who went there together, we built stronger friendships over that time,” he added.
Another alumni from the same batch, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “Honestly, when first going in, I thought it was going to be fun and games. But in fact it was hard work from day one; after all it is the military.”
“My training taught me to be more responsible as well as inspired me to help people. It has also taught me discipline and patriotism towards my country. They trained us to use our minds as much as our bodies,” he added.
Mohammad Mustafa, a 39 year expert in the field of education, a retired teacher, and one who taught those who went for training and returned different men, has high praise for the Ministry’s initiative to introduce a military programme.
“I remember when some of my students went away for military training and came back very different than their former selves. They were more responsible, disciplined and serious about getting their work done,” said Mustafa.
“They were focused in class and their homework would be submitted on time. I encourage parents to enrol their children in this program and students as well. It does have a positive effect on the students,” he added.
Members of the public were ecstatic to hear the news as it will help a lot of students brought up in a technology-saturated environment to learn discipline as it has been a word used many times.
Rumaitha Al Busaidi, an Omani radio presenter said, “Quite happy actually; at least the younger generation will learn discipline amidst all the spoilt culture we have grown to raise them in.”
Vinod Varma, a private sector employee, echoed that and said, “It’s a great idea. It will ensure children learn discipline as well as loyalty and dedication to the country. The country’s progress will also become stronger.”