x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

State schools credit the promise of reward for excellent pass rate

The promise of cash prizes, scholarships and phonecalls from rulers may have helped students study harder this year, says Ministry of Education.

DUBAI // The incentives promised to high achievers this year helped the national pass rate jump several points, education officials say.

A total of 24,396 students in government and private schools following the national curriculum took their final year examinations last month. Students received their scores by email and SMS on Monday.

At state schools, 96.27 per cent of students in the science stream passed, as did 89.74 per cent of students in the literature stream. About 60 per cent of all students were in the literature stream.

"The pass rate has exceeded the previous years' and is better than what we expected," said Ali Al Suwaidi, assistant undersecretary to the Minister of Education.

Last year, the pass rate in science was 84.3 per cent and 69.6 per cent in literature.

The percentage difference between boys and girls was also reduced. In the science stream, girls had a pass rate of 96.06 per cent as opposed to 90.94 per cent among boys. Girls in the literature stream had a pass rate of 90.52 per cent while 85.15 per cent of boys passed.

Mr Al Suwaidi attributes the success to government support. "Students know that if their perform well they will get scholarships and so they have started working hard to be among the top scorers."

He said other awards and incentives offered by each emirate - such as cash prizes and congratulatory phone calls from the rulers - helped motivate students, too.

As in previous years, private schools following the national curriculum did not fare as well. The pass rate was 89.41 per cent among the science students and 79.91 per cent among students in the literature stream.

Students in Al Gharbia performed the best out of all the education zones with a pass rate of 97.54 per cent. In Fujairah, 95.77 per cent of students passed, while Abu Dhabi had a 94.34 per cent pass rate. Ras Al Khaimah students fared least well with a pass rate of 84.33 per cent.

Mr Al Suwaidi explained differences would arise because of the distribution of schools between emirates.

"Al Gharbia has very few schools," he said. "Additionally, there is very little distraction there, so those students tend to concentrate more on education."

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Education announced the top 10 achievers in both tracks.

Noor Mohamed Seoudy, an 18-year-old from Dibba, was not expecting the 99.3 per cent she got. "When we saw the SMS, my mother and I started screaming," she said. "We could not believe it."

Noor, the top-performing literature student in the country, said she had always been studious: "But you never expect to be a top achiever."

She will be applying to universities in Egypt and abroad later this year for a programme in media studies.

"I heard that those who get the highest will receive scholarships from the government," she said. "I am looking forward to that."