KHDA report says quality of Dubai education is rising
DUBAI // The quality of private school education has improved significantly in the past seven years, but about half of schools are still “unsatisfactory” or “acceptable”.
A new report by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said 51 per cent of pupils were receiving good or outstanding education compared to 35 per cent in 2008, when inspections began.
In the Dubai Schools Inspection Report on 143 schools, 14 were ranked as outstanding, 59 good, 61 acceptable and nine as unsatisfactory.
This year’s report also showed the provision of Arabic as a first language continued to lag, as did progress on international testing standards.
Arabic for native speakers was of great concern, with progression described as alarmingly low.
“The quality of teaching in Arabic as a first language in the majority of schools is only acceptable,” the report stated.
Only a quarter of teachers of Arabic as a first language had a recognised qualification, and 26 per cent had a university degree in the subject, the report said.
Schools were urged to attract and retain better qualified Arabic teachers, and to modify curriculums to allow pupils at different levels to progress.
Only a third of the 31 US-curriculum schools provided a good or better-than-good level of education. Many US schools do not use external pupil assessments and many teachers lacked the knowledge and skills to deliver a standards-based curriculum, the report said.
Only a third of these schools provide a high school diploma recognised in the US.
Another area where more improvement was needed was in reaching the national agenda.
This agenda aims for the UAE to rank in the top 20 globally for reading, mathematics and sciences by 2021 in the Programme for International Student Assessment test, and among the top 15 in the Trends in Mathematics and Science Studies (Timss) test.
But inspectors said they found only a few schools showing a good understanding of how to reach the targets. Private school scores in most of these tests were below the international average, with only Timss Grade 8 science hitting the global average.
For the first time, this year’s report highlighted a school’s overall effectiveness in providing special-needs education. Only a minority of pupils with disabilities had access to good or outstanding education, and one in five special-needs children were making unsatisfactory progress.
“We’ve witnessed significant improvements over the past seven years,” said Jameela Al Muhairi, the chief of KHDA’s Dubai School Inspections Bureau.
“We’ve seen developments across all areas of education and huge efforts from schools, parents, teachers and other stakeholders to improve the quality of education in our schools.”
This year inspectors found “good” or “better” leadership in 60 per cent of all schools, an increase of 14 per cent since 2008.
Only 2 per cent of schools were found to have “unsatisfactory” leadership, compared with 16 per cent seven years ago.
The report noted a steady improvement in early years education, which makes up 18 per cent of the private school population.
Ahktar Waqqas, the principal of Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum Pakistani School in Al Qusais, which received an unsatisfactory rating for the fourth consecutive year, said standards had to improve.
“It was clear that the school was not doing as well as it should,” said Mr Waqqas. With more than Dh300,000 spent on new facilities he was hopeful of a brighter future.
The American School of Dubai maintained its good rating. “ASD shares with KHDA an abiding, fundamental commitment to continuous improvement,” said Julia Martinez, its director of advancement.
Updated: May 12, 2015 04:00 AM