Dubai's most multicultural school has students of 103 different nationalities
The school has 3,750 students, 308 teaching staff and 640 ancillary staff of a multitude of nationalities.
With the UAE playing second home to around 200 nationalities, the country's schools also have a diverse education community with diverse curricula, programmes and nationalities. In the most recent education landscape report by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the Gems Wellington Academy (GWA) - Dubai Silicon Oasis branch was named as the school with most nationalities in the UAE.
The British curriculum school has been named the most 'multicultural school' with students of 103 different nationalities studying in it. The school has 3,750 students, 308 teaching staff and 640 ancillary staff of a multitude of nationalities.
Principal and CEO of the school Kevin Loft said although it is a British curriculum school and most of the teachers are from the UK, GWA is very 'non-selective' in terms of nationality, religion or culture when it comes to students. "We are an inclusive school and do not have a set profile for our school. But perhaps, it is just the different kinds of inclusive programmes we create and the way we train our staff to ensure all cultures fit in to our school environment that attracts different nationalities to our school.
"We also create awareness among our students that this country's beauty lies in its diversity and therefore we must learn to accept each other with our differences. So, as a school, we take responsibility to ensure that all members of our school understand the variety and cultures and expectations within our learning community. A successful multicultural school is the one that welcomes diversity. You need to look at the community you live in and the cultures that are within it and embrace all those cultures to make them feel part of the culture of your school. Give them voice, make them feel valued and they will prove to be an asset," he said.
Loft said the school takes pride in the fact that it replicates the culture of the UAE that welcomes people of all nationalities and embraces their different cultures. "We are an international school and we celebrate diversity at our school by way of celebrating different international days."
He said the school also runs unique programmes that emulates values of the UAE based on the aspect of love, peace and tolerance. "We live in a country that has lot of different nationalities and cultures who work and live together and that is something that we reflect through our school programmes."
Grade 6 student Ralph Chigoya from Zimbabwe, said: "I love meeting new people and exploring different cultures, and I get to do it here in my school as well as in the UAE. It is amazing to see how different yet similar we all are. Studying in such a school has opened my mind, made me more accepting and given me a chance to experience so many different languages, faiths, traditions and learning so much from them."
Grade 12 student and Egyptian national Zeyad Haggag, who is also the headboy of the school, said he came to the UAE 11 years ago. "When I joined GWA several years ago, it was a bit overwhelming to see so many different nationalities here but soon I realised it was a beautiful symbiotic pool of knowledge, talent and experience that I was getting exposed to. It is a privilege to be in such a multicultural set up as we gain a lot when we study and interact with people of different cultures, we get exposed to different nationalities and can collaborate on great concepts that benefit you and others."
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