WAM WAM FNC FILE1-1607431281759
FNC members on Tuesday debated the education policy, which provides for the right to free and compulsory education up to the undergraduate level to every Emirati. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Members of the Federal National Council (FNC) voiced their concern over the high prevalence of bullying in UAE schools, demanding more efforts to make schools safer for students.

A report by the House’s education panel highlighted the prevalence of bullying in UAE schools in 2018 at 31 per cent — or one in three students, compared to the worldwide rate of 23, or one in four pupils.

A survey of 1,054 students in the UAE, conducted by the International Journal of Preventive Medicine Research of the American Institute of Scienc in 2015 showed that 40 per cent had been victims of bullying. And 85 per cent of the cases occurred on school campuses. Additionally, the UAE School Safety Survey carried out in 2016 noted that bullying was the top school safety concern for UAE-based parents.

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FNC members also said that more qualified Emirati teachers were needed for the rapidly expanding school system in the country.

Shortge of teachers

FNC member Dr Shaikh Obaid Al Tunaiji said the acute shortage of teachers in UAE remains a pressing concern and the ratip of Emirati-to-foreign teachers was steadily decreasing — from 68 per cent in 2017 to 48 per cent in 2018.

“The percentage of Emirati teachers in government schools stood at 45, while that figure plummeted to 0.03 in private schools,” Dr Al Tunaji told Education Minister Hussain Al Hammadi.

FNC members also voiced their concern about the dwindling number of Emirati professors in UAE universities. The House was told that Emirati professors accounted for 29 per cent of the total teaching staff in UAE University and just five per cent in Zayed University.

Emsat tests

Sabreen Hassan Al Yamahi, another FNC member, was concerned over the EMSAT tests, a national system of standardised computer-based tests, saying that the system deprived many Emirati students from completing their university studies.

The Minister of Education said qualified teachers are a vital element in the educational system and the government has gone a long way in attracting Emiratis to the profession.

Education policy

FNC members on Tuesday debated the education policy, which provides for the right to free and compulsory education up to the undergraduate level to every Emirati. The Ministry of Education also launched a strategic plan to develop an innovative education system for building a knowledgeable and globally competitive society. The system aims to make Emiratis from all age groups ready to meet future demands of the labour market demand. It shall provide the best services for internal and external customers.

The strategy, which is a series of ambitious five-year plans designed to bring significant qualitative improvement in the education system, especially in the way teachers teach and students learn, smart learning programmes, new teachers’ codes, licensing and evaluations systems, as well as curriculum revision, including teaching math and science in English, are all part of the strategy.

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A key area of focus has been to transform the K-12 programmes to ensure that students are fully prepared to attend universities around the world and compete in the global job market.

The government has promoted technology in schools to foster future employment possibilities among today’s youth, in line with its strategy to introduce computers and tablets in all schools.