Abu Dhabi: Only a few schools across the UAE can be considered fair to good, and even fewer good to great, according to the global consultancy McKinsey and Company.

During a meeting yesterday at the Sorbonne University, Abu Dhabi, attended by Humaid Al Qatami, the UAE Minister of Education (MoE), Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, director general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), and a number of leading educationists, McKinsey's Dr Mona Mourshed said the majority of schools in the country could only be rated poor to fair.

Presenting a report on "how the world's most improved school systems keep getting better", she said: "A poor to fair schooling system requires a restricted approach. Is the UAE making sure that its resources are being directed to those that need the most help? I've noticed that 70 per cent of UAE schools focus on processes, and ignore resources".

Reward process

"There has to be a way to acknowledge the efforts teachers are making in schools, and implement a reward process for a school, and not just reward individuals — that process will help a school jump from fair to good."

In his speech, Dr Al Khaili spoke about the four things that Adec and the MoE were focused on as part of the education strategy plan. These were: to graduate world-class students; to offer every student equal opportunity; to ensure the private sector achieves standards acceptable to Adec at reasonable fees, and to maintain and preserve national identity.

However, "there is a great challenge to reach international standards", said Adec's director general.

He added: "Educational requirements change... That's why we have reverted to McKinsey to give us their feedback on how we can deal with rapid change in education."

A McKinsey report asked questions such as how does a school system with poor performance become good, and how does one with good performance become excellent?


Highlighting eight different findings in this regard, Dr Mourshed said: "A system can make significant gains from wherever it starts — and these gains can be achieved in four to six years. Improving system performance ultimately comes down to improving the learning experience of students in their classrooms.

"School systems need to change their structure by establishing new institutions or school types, alter school years and levels, or decentralise system responsibilities."

Resources need to be improved by adding more educational staff to schools or by increasing funding, she added.