x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Surprise results revealed by Dubai public school inspections

The results of the KHDA public school inspections process reveal a widening gap between boys' and girls' education standards.

DUBAI // More than 70 per cent of boys who attend public schools receive an “acceptable” quality of education, according to new inspection results.

The results are in a report, commissioned by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and compiled after visiting the emirate’s 79 government schools from January to April.

The results rank schools as unsatisfactory, acceptable, good or outstanding.

The Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB), which conducted the study, found one school to be unsatisfactory, 39 acceptable, 33 good and six outstanding.

The schools ranked outstanding are Al Bara’ah KG, Al Manhal KG, Childhood Development Centre KG, Al Nokhbah Model School, Al Qeyam Model School and Um Suqaim Girls’ School. The school rated unsatisfactory was Mohammed Noor School.

Fatma Al Marri, CEO of the Dubai Schools Agency, which is in charge of public schools in the emirate, said despite the shortcomings progress has been made in the past three years, and 22 per cent of public school students are receiving a better standard of education now.

“The schools had to learn a lot of things because they were not used to the culture of teaching and learning,” she observed.

The report warns that the quality of education for boys is dropping.

It says leadership of boys’ schools, particularly in Cycles 2 (grades 6-9) and 3 (grades 10-12), was notably weaker than that of girls’ schools.

“The leader of the school plays a huge role in moving the school forward,” noted Jameela al Muhairi, the DSIB chief.

In one third of boys’ high schools, attainment in the English language was unsatisfactory.

Ahmed Mohammed al Shaiba, a member on the board of model schools, agreed that a lot of effort needed to be put into improving boys’ schools.

“The educators in these classrooms are demotivated because of the lack of support and incentives,” he said. “Along with that there are few Emirati male teachers in the classroom who would be role models for the pupils.”

The report also underscores long-standing weaknesses in the national curriculum: a narrow range of subjects, a short school day and limited choices for older pupils.

While many public schools improved their rank this year, the report found low pupil performance in English, mathematics and science in relation to international standards, without much improvement over three years of inspection. Standards in mathematics and science were found to be good in only 40 to 45 per cent schools.

Inspectors said pupils had underdeveloped problem-solving and investigative skills and were rarely challenged to apply their knowledge to real-world situations.

Public schools have, however, made great strides in improving safety and health standards: almost 90 per cent of schools ranked good or outstanding in that category.

Ms al Muhairi said this is the last year the Dubai Schools Agency will be responsible for monitoring quality at public schools.

The KHDA has handed over the management of public education to the Ministry of Education, which will be introducing an evaluation and accreditation system.

“We have started on the road of improvement and are providing a good base for them to carry on,” Ms al Muhairi said.

With the handover of the public system to the ministry, Mr al Shaiba said the focus should be to fix chronic problems and “continue the good initiative of ensuring schools provide high standards.”

aahmed@thenational.ae