Wellbeing of students is no longer optional but a right that schools must uphold, a top Dubai official said as the latest ‘Dubai Student Wellbeing Census’ got underway on Sunday.
Dr Abdulla Al Karam, director-general of Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), said wellbeing is “a human right” for pupils, teachers and parents.
Wellbeing at school, including health and safety, is a key focus area judged in annual KHDA school inspections. The confidential census, now in its third year, also shows how well students are keeping emotionally, psychologically and socially.
Dr Al Karam’s remarks came during Sunday’s launch event for the census at Al Khaleej National School, Garhoud.
“Wellbeing might mean different things to different people, but make no mistake — it is no longer an option, it’s your right. Wellbeing is human right, whether you are a teacher, parent or student. Times are changing and people will talk about this,” Dr Al Karam said.
‘Exams less important’
He also said “as students go through life, exam results will be less important, but wellbeing will become more and more important”. Dr Al Karam pointed out that students spend 17 per cent of their time at school and wellbeing was not only the school’s responsibility.
Dr Abdulla said: “Parents have to work together with schools, and schools have to work together with parents. These conversations help us improve each other’s wellbeing.”
Last year’s census suggested 81 per cent of students are happy, while the survey said 43 per cent of teachers and other adults “are just getting by”.
Dr Al Karam said “some teachers are concerned about their future, but they shouldn’t be”, referring to disruptive technology coming to the classroom.
“All AI [artificial intelligence] will do is take the admin work from you. No teacher has signed up to do admin work, they signed up to teach students about life. With wellbeing, we always talk about the heart; technology will never have that.”
The census is a five-year project to find out how students feel and think about their own wellbeing, happiness, quality of life and engagement.
This year, the census will run together with the second annual ‘Adults@School Wellbeing Survey’ until December 5. Open to teachers and staff working in Dubai’s private schools, each participant in the survey will receive a personalised report of their wellbeing, including suggestions on ways to improve it.
Results of the two studies — which ask a variety of questions related to happiness, relationships, sleep, self-esteem and other topics — are expected in early 2020.
In the latest editions, around 100,000 students from grade six to 12, and 20,000 school staff are expected to take part — an increase of around five per cent and about 53 per cent, respectively.