190828 students after schools
File image of school students in UAE for illustrative purpose only Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Sharjah: The Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) today unveiled the results of its ‘Itqan’ programme for enhancing school performance across the emirate.

The programme evaluated 110 out of 127 private schools in the emirate, which collectively educate 181,175 pupils, including 21,995 Emirati pupils. As many as 17 schools were not included in the evaluation due to not meeting the criteria, such as being only in their second year of operation.

Results of the study demonstrated that 107 schools, constituting 97 per cent of private schools in the emirate, provide “acceptable or better” education.

Furthermore, 54 schools, representing 49 per cent of those evaluated, provide “good or better” education.

Overall results

• 1 ‘outstanding’ school

• 9 ‘very good’

• 44 ‘good’

• 53 ‘acceptable’

• 3 ‘weak’

• No school ‘very weak’

Fee hikes

In March, SPEA had announced that private schools in Sharjah will in the coming academic year (2023-24) be allowed to raise annual tuition fees by up to five per cent. However, schools rated below ‘acceptable’ will not be allowed to increase charges. The amount by which the schools can raise fees depends on their ratings, as follows:

• ‘Outstand’ schools by 5%

• ‘Very good’ schools by 3.75%

• ‘Good’ by 2.5%

• ‘Acceptable’ by 1.25%

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What is evaluated?

It said that the Itqan programme, which was first launched in October last year and lasted until March this year, evaluates schools on six criteria. These include quality of pupils’ achievements, personal and social development of pupils and innovation skills, quality of teaching and evaluation processes, curriculum, quality of care, guidance, and support provided to pupils, and the quality of school leadership and management.

The study also highlighted that 110,954 pupils who make 61 per cent of the total student population in private schools receive good or better education, while 177,709 pupils - equal to 98 per cent - receive at least an acceptable level of education.

Among Emirati pupils, 14,003 who represent 64 per cent of all Emirati students across Sharjah private schools, receive a good or better education, and nearly all (21,987 out of 21,995) receive an acceptable or better education.

Rise in quality

The results indicate a significant improvement of 68 per cent in school performance compared to previous evaluations in 2018 and 2019.

The number of schools providing good or better education has grown from eight to 53, while those offering acceptable or less education has dropped from 94 to 56.

Pupils’ achievement quality has also improved in 67 per cent of private schools, compared to eight per cent in the previous session.

Furthermore, proficiency in Arabic for native speakers improved in 60 per cent of the schools.

Affordable and good

The results also underscored that quality education is not limited to high-cost institutions. Thirty-four private schools, charging average annual fees of Dh20,000 or less, provide good or better education. This includes 22 medium-fee and 12 low-fee schools, demonstrating their commitment to continuous improvement and development, SPEA said.

The results mark a “significant milestone” for SPEA in its “continuous commitment” to enhance the quality of private education in Sharjah. However, SPEA emphasised the need for continuous support, professional development programmes for educators, and regular review visits to schools achieving acceptable or lower levels to ensure future improvement.