International Children a Mark Above UAE Peers

International Children a Mark Above UAE Peers
By James Mullan
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School children in the UAE are doing less well than some of their international peers, according to two new studies released this week to The National.

More than 14,300 pupils aged 10 and 14 from 458 schools in the UAE took tests last year for the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study.

Fourth graders were found to be less proficient in mathematics, science and reading compared with counterparts in countries such as Singapore, China, Finland, Hong Kong and Russia, the studies found.

The tests, carried out in 34 countries, were aimed to highlight what governments were doing to make their schools effective, what teachers were doing to make classroom instruction effective, and what parents were doing to ensure their children’s academic success.

Fourteen per cent of fourth graders in the UAE showed a high level of knowledge in reading and science, and 12 per cent did so in mathematics. Only 6 per cent did so in all three subjects.

In Singapore, those figures were 78 per cent for maths, 68 per cent for science and 62 per cent for reading. More than half did so in all three subjects.

Regionally, when the UAE is grouped with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman, fewer than 10 per cent showed a high standard in all three subjects, compared with 40 per cent in China and 39 per cent in Finland.

“Investment in education is a long-term endeavour,” said Chad Minnich, from Boston College’s International Study Centre, which set the two tests.

“Some countries have been investing heavily and working hard for years, even decades. For some countries, such as Singapore, this investment has resulted in continuing excellence. For other countries, such as Norway, the experience has been different. While a great majority of students in Norway are reaching proficiency in the three subjects, only 8 per cent are achieving the high benchmark in all subjects, which is not too different from the UAE.”

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