'Happy students'- not an oxymoron in the UAE and Jordan
Students in UAE schools are much happier than their counterparts in the UK and USA, according to the results of a new global study. The happiness index for students conducted as part of the global Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) evaluation ranked the UAE second highest in the Middle East.
Jordan was ranked one place above the UAE as Indonesia, Albania, Peru, Thailand and Columbia ranked among the top five countries with happiest students.
More than 500,000 students in 65 countries, representing 80 per cent of the world economy, were included in the study and the UAE ranked well above the global happiness average. The study is conducted once every three years, with each round adopting a major focus on one set of learning skills.
The PISA 2012 results showed 85 per cent of Dubai’s students reported that they are happy at their schools, above the global average of 80 per cent. These ratings take into account a range of factors including teacher satisfaction, student confidence and the impact of extracurricular activities on education.
Speaking with Khaleej Times, Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman & Director General of Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said: “Everybody enjoys living in Dubai and it is a good indicator for us. Students enjoy their education with a good lifestyle and this has translated into a good rating for us.”
The PISA 2012 assessment focused on mathematics, with reading, science and problem-solving included in the minor areas.
While students were found to be happy in the UAE, the results of their educational outcome were not positive. The UAE was ranked below the international average of 500 points in maths, reading and science skills but a slight improvement was noted in the results.
In Dubai, there was a 11-point improvement in mathematics, a nine point improvement in reading and an eight point improvement in science from 2009, resulting in average scores of 464, 468 and 474 consecutively.
“There has been a good improvement. We know we are not within the international benchmark yet, but the numbers are moving towards the right direction,” said Dr Karam.
Busting the myth that Dubai’s private schools are not comparable to UK and European counterparts, British curriculum students in the emirate averaged mean scores between 508 and 526 across four subjects, including mathematics, reading, science and problem solving.
IB students in Dubai averaged between 517 and 561, while UK schools averaged scores of between 494 and 517 on the same tests.
A total of 4,947 students participated in PISA 2012, representing all curricula in private and public schools in Dubai.
Students from IB and UK curriculum schools achieved the highest results, while students from MoE and Pakistani curriculum schools achieved the lowest.
Dr Abdulla also lauded education reforms initiated at this year’s UAE cabinet retreat saying, “There will be a systematic change and it will have a positive impact on Dubai. It will be a momentum boost and everybody is working to make the system better. What is important about the decisions taken is the strong support and drive shown by the top leadership in improving education and healthcare.”
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