x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Database link-up for northern schools

New database will store the results of every public school pupil in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

DUBAI // Public schools in Dubai and the Northern Emirates will soon be connected to a database that will store all student information to monitor progress.

Starting with 15 schools today, the Ministry of Education aims to link all institutions that follow the national curriculum by the 2011-2012 academic year, which begins in September.

The database will provide complete and accurate statistical records for each pupil, including background, test scores, progress, health and behaviour, said Badria Yousif Hussain, the IT director at the ministry.

"It will be a comprehensive database that will contain student information that can be used by policymakers and educators to enhance the learning process," Ms Hussain said.

The authority will also be able to track schools' needs and complaints through the system.

Ms Hussain said the initiative would foster better communication between the zones, schools and parents.

The country has no centralised record-keeping for pupils in schools, adult centres and children who are schooled at home. The system will provide those details, and monitor attendance and early school leavers.

Dr Natasha Ridge, an education specialist at the Dubai School of Government, said the system could be used for early intervention with pupils who seem ready to drop out.

"It may help to identify a pattern and understand what contributes to pupils dropping out of the school system," Dr Ridge said.

Fouzia al Gareeb, an assistant under secretary responsible for educational processes at public schools, said training sessions on data entry would be held for staff at each school, including school directors, social workers and teachers.

Dr Ridge said the data collected should be shared with researchers, who currently found it hard to compile information. "If the information, like test scores, can be matched with other factors then this will be beneficial," she said.

But Dr Ridge said the accuracy of the information still depended on how efficiently the principals recorded it.

"It depends on how many pay attention to entering the data because this could be a very onerous task for them," she said. "The biggest challenge for some schools also remains patchy internet service, which could hinder the process."

The ministry has said it will provide all public schools with a high-speed internet connection in the next six years.