"Useful learning" must be supported by a system of ethics.

This was the message from Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Education and President of Zayed University, yesterday at a conference.

Addressing more than 400 of Zayed University's (ZU) staff and faculty during its Education in Human Values conference, Shaikh Nahyan said: "In the UAE, we strongly believe that useful learning must always be supported by a system of ethics and values.

In all our educational programmes, we insist on honesty and integrity as well as the need for individuals to take responsibility for their actions.

"Our students are expected to appreciate intellectual and social perspectives that are different from their own. And they are committed to leaving the world a better place for future generations."

The conference is being presented as a way to address how the education of young people can help promote such values as peace, truth and non-violence, he said.

"These are values that are obviously so important in our lives, our society and our world today. These values are also at the core of our country's vision for its present and its future."

Shaikh Nahyan said ZU faculty and staff have come from many countries to help students achieve academic success as well as prepare them for life. This is what we refer to as a "total education", he said.

"Total education requires creating and sustaining an environment of integrity, civility, compassion and excellence. Total education prepares students to live their lives as successful mothers, daughters, colleagues, friends and citizens."

The conference offered the opportunity to think about how schools and universities could prepare students to understand and incorporate universal human values as a basis for living moral, productive and fulfilling lives.

"We live in a world that undergoes change at all times. Our environment keeps changing and technology changes at a rapid pace. Thus, there is a need for a model of instruction that can cope with the rapid changes taking place as well as the diversity of languages, cultures and traditions."