About 400 teachers will gather in Dubai tomorrow morning to review the detailed findings of a study that found that the emirate's children were performing well below international standards in maths and science. Although results from Dubai's participation in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) were published a year ago, a longer "Educators' Report" will be released tomorrow at Dubai Men's College to teachers and principals whose schools took part. The tests were taken in 2007 by 10 and 14-year-olds.
Juan Manuel Moreno, a senior education specialist at the World Bank, and Osama Obeidat, head of monitoring at the Jordan Education Initiative, will be guest speakers at the meeting. The TIMSS data published by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) painted a grim picture of public and private schools in Dubai. Pupils performed well below international averages, with public school students faring the worst on average they were 100 points below their peers in Dubai private schools in Grade 8 maths, and 40 points behind private-school pupils at the Grade 4 level. Dubai schools as a whole performed far below international averages.
"I would say that Timss probably flags that we need to look more closely at the curriculum used in the public schools here," said Dr Natasha Ridge, a research fellow at the Dubai School of Government and an expert on UAE public schools. Officials from the KHDA will use Timss data as the starting point to improve the system as a whole. Until last year, the UAE had never participated in benchmarking exams, making it impossible to know how its schools compared to those elsewhere in the region and the world.
The Ministry of Education has since announced plans to participate in the next round of TIMSS and in another study, the Programme for International Student Assessment, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. "The reason we took part in Timss was to gather evidence about how our schools are performing in maths and science," said Fatma al Marri, the chief executive of the Dubai Schools Agency, in a statement yesterday. "This is all about school reform. Until we know how we are doing at the moment, we cannot put measures in place to raise our standards."