Dubai schools need to do better internationally

DUBAI — Dubai schools ranked 42nd in reading and 41st in science and mathematics, according to a survey conducted in 65 countries, by the Organization for Economic Coordination and Development (OECD).


Muaz Shabandri

Published: Fri 10 Dec 2010, 12:19 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 11:18 AM

Participating in the international survey for the first time, Dubai was placed ahead of Qatar, Jordan and Tunisia but the overall performance was well below international standards.

Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), said: “The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results re-affirm our status as the best in the region but at the same time we understand that there is a scope for improvement at the international level. We are optimistic of a change in the ranking after the next evaluation in 2012.”

The final results have placed Dubai among the lower half of the ranking table among the below average group.

The PISA survey, based on the compiled results of over half a million students in 65 economies, tests 15-year-olds in both reading and mathematics, and also highlights the difference between girls and boys.

In Dubai, a total of 5,620 students took part in the assessment carried out by the KHDA, representing 134 public and private schools.

In reading and science, Dubai’s female students outperformed the males while in mathematics, there was no significant difference between the average scores for males and females.

Highlighting the need to participate in the evaluation, Dr Abdulla said: “We need to assess the situation against international benchmarks and PISA results provide key findings that are useful in assessing the results of education policies initiated at the KHDA.”

Fatma Al Janahi, KHDA’s head of International Assessments, said: “These results showcase the strengths and weaknesses in our educational system. We will analyse these results in detail and provide policy makers with better information to improve the education system.”

PISA surveys take place every three years and each cycle assesses three domains: reading, math and science. Allowing countries to compare their educational progress, the survey results provide a measuring yard to compare Dubai’s success with other countries.

“School administrators were provided with extensive training and workshops on how to conduct the surveys in their schools and their efforts have made this assessment possible,” added Fatma.

Dr Abdulla suggested that the participation of Dubai in the PISA assessment would create a clear picture of how schools in Dubai are performing at international level. “These results are important because they demonstrate the ability of 15-year-old student to understand and apply math and science in real life. We believe young people need to be flexible in the future and they will need skills to move from job to job as well as the mental capacity to flourish in a fast changing world,” Dr Abdulla said.

With a wide variety of curricula on offer in Dubai, the international report identified Dubai as having one of the highest levels of variation in scores.

Schools following the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum reported high levels of comprehension in all three domains while the public schools had the lowest scores.

The KHDA will undertake detailed analysis of Dubai’s full results and will be releasing further information over the next few months.

More news from