What’s ailing Pakistani schools in UAE? Experts discuss

The staff is not trained according to the international standards and parents also do not cooperate.

Lack of resources, inexperienced and untrained teachers and a high staff turnover are some of the reasons why Pakistani schools in the UAE consistently get a low ranking by authorities, it was said in an education meeting in Dubai.

Principals from nine Pakistani schools across the country took part in a workshop held by the Pakistan Association in Dubai, where they discussed strategies on how to prepare for 21st century skills and the upcoming school inspections by authorities.

In the recent inspection results released by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), two Pakistani schools in Dubai showed 'below expectations' towards the National Agenda Target. Also, the HH Shaikh Rashid Al Maktoum Pakistani School in Dubai, was ranked as 'weak' for the seventh time in a row, as reported by Khaleej Times previously.

Shaheen Saadi, principal at the Al Amal English High School Sharjah, said there needs to be a "heavy investment" in training teachers in order to improve the quality of education in Pakistani schools.

"In Sharjah, we haven't had any inspections yet. We haven't been able to reach all of the requirements they have. It may take time and a lot of effort to reach the mark they need. So, this meeting is very helpful in learning on how to fulfill those high criteria," Saadi told Khaleej Times.

"The main problem is that the level of criteria is so high and the education we get back home does not match. Maybe, we will be able to reach it after some time. We are trying, though. The staff is not trained according to the international standards and parents also do not cooperate. The teachers need strong training in Pakistan and as well as in UAE. The funding available to the Pakistani schools in UAE is not sufficient and they don't have a lot of facilities."

Samina Nasir, the head of education at the Pakistan Association Dubai, said that the workshop is meant to help principals improve their schools.

She also said that there needs to be a greater focus on investing in teachers and ensuring that they are properly trained.

"Hopefully, now, they have their strategic plans in place and that they are putting in a quite an effort towards the inspections. It's very difficult to find competent teachers because of the salary packages. They leave when they get a better opportunity. This is also a problem. Professional development for teachers is very important and we should invest in this," she said.

Nigel Robert, the principal at the Scholars International Academy in Sharjah, was leading the discussion at the workshop and shared best school practices with the Pakistani school principals.

He said that the teachers need to be trained in the 21st century skills in order to provide quality and relevant educational tools to students.

"What I started by doing is to highlight what I thought were the characteristics of schools in the 21st century. I was focusing on how students need to change and how teachers, principals and school owners need to recognise that we're moving into a change, it's a digital world now," he said.

"I would use evaluation, instead of  using inspection,. I don't think the real aim is to rank them, but to highlight where schools are compliant and where they are not. I think schools that feed on specific nationalities have to show more compliance than others. I do think that there is an issue with teachers' salaries in this part of the world. I think more teachers are moving away from education because of the strains and stresses of the advancing need for change."

The principal at the Sheikh Khalifa Pakistani School in Abu Dhabi, Abdul Qudus Saggu, believes that the solution to the problems of Pakistani schools in the country is to bring the community together.

"The community should come forward and motivate everyone to focus on the importance of education. Students will not have that earning capacity if they don't have an education and that impacts society. They should support the schools in every way, in providing funding as well," Saggu said.


Learn afresh

Modern education must match future reality. And that reality will be driven by Artificial Intelligence and other new technologies. Learning methods therefore must keep pace with the times and envisage the needs of the workforce of the next generation, for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Those education systems that are lagging behind have a chance to innovate and change course in the UAE. And innovate they must, to mould students to handle speedy developments that will shape the future. It takes a larger, liberal vision to start with. Learning is easy once dogmas of the past are shed.

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