Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pakistani schools struggle to meet standards - My Letters - THE NATIONAL - Dt 17 February 2010

My Letters - Pakistani schools struggle to meet standards - THE NATIONAL - Dt 17 February 2010

DUBAI // Two out of the three Pakistani-curriculum schools in Dubai are failing to meet minimum standards and no Indian or Pakistani schools received an outstanding rating according to a report released today by the emirate’s schools regulator.

The report includes the results of the first-ever inspections of Indian and Pakistani curriculum schools in Dubai, which enroll almost 60,000 pupils, about a third of the emirate’s student population. The schools were not included in the first round of school reports conducted in 2009.

The picture at Indian-curriculum schools is brighter: only about one in seven schools were judged unsatisfactory. By comparison, among the schools inspected last year – which included private and public schools teaching a variety of curricula – one in eight was deemed unsatisfactory.

Not a single school was found to be “outstanding”, the top score awarded by inspectors. Seven of the 20 Indian schools inspected achieved the second-highest mark, “good”, while another ten were deemed only “acceptable”. The single Pakistani school not judged “unsatisfactory” was also found to be “acceptable.”

Overall, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai has judged only four schools in Dubai “outstanding” — all of them high-priced private schools offering the British curriculum, with fees for grade 12 upwards of Dh50,000. The most expensive Indian school, Dubai Modern High School, which achieved a rating of “good”, currently charges Dh27,000.

The KHDA linked fee increases in private schools to their performance in the inspections last year. This year, however, the authority said it was working on a framework with the Ministry of Education that would help determine regulations for fee increases, instead of relying solely on the ratings.

The standard of Arabic instruction was one of the reasons schools were docked points that ultimately led to the lack of an outstanding rating, a situation mirrored in many private schools that were inspected last year.

Arabic education has recently become a priority for the KHDA.

Arabic teaching was unsatisfactory in a third of Indian schools, due to “weak teaching skills and insecure subject knowledge of teaching staff”. Some schools did not adhere to KHDA requirements relating to time allocated to teaching Arabic, and most do not have proper standards for teaching Arabic as a second language.

However, Indian schools performed well in their teaching of Islamic studies, with students demonstrating an “advanced knowledge and understanding of local traditions and culture”.

They also placed significant emphasis on environmental issues, but weak teaching plagued earlier levels.

Students generally demonstrated a strong desire for learning, and were “highly motivated and conscientious”, often excelling in English and mathematics.

To read this article in original, please visit THE NATIONAL online

My comments and suggestions as follows:
The preliminary news reports about the KHDA rating is looked at with interest by all parents. The significant increase in the school fees and the service provided by various groups and corporate establishments involved in educational sector and KHDA have to consider overall the economic situation prevailing in UAE and globally to impart good education with economically viable options available.

It is heartening to note that Indian schools and students performed well in Islamic studies, and placed significant emphasis on environmental issues, Mathematics and English. However, it highlighted weak teaching as one of the reason for the deterioration in rating level. This reason may be due to the anomaly existing in the salary level of the teaching staff, when compared with the other government schools and establishments, or even the school bus drivers and qualified candidates obviously opting for more lucrative jobs around.

Government and KHDA should consider economic concessions for schools in terms of free electricity, water, telephone connections, and free registration for school buses and subsidised fuel delivery options etc so that these operating costs could be cut down and adjusted in school budget for hikes in the salary of teaching staff and options for better educational facilities. These concessions may also give a leverage to think of reducing the increased school fees at least for some time till the current economy situation improves.

Looking forward to the detailed list of schools and their drawbacks that halted their progress to a better rating to get a clear picture for the parents about various schools in the region.


Ramesh Menon
Abu Dhabi

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