From changing tyres to cooking classes: How UAE schools are teaching pupils life skills

Plan designed to prepare young people for life beyond the classroom

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Schools in the UAE are teaching pupils skills to prepare them for life outside the classroom.

Clubs are being formed to show pupils how to change car tyres, replace light bulbs, cook food, manage tax affairs and more.

At South View School in Dubai, where a club for 15-year-old girls was launched last month, staff take time to prepare them for adult life.

Elizabeth McCullough, South View's head of science, started the club to build pupils' self confidence and offer them real world experiences.

I never thought I would learn how to change a tyre when you could just call somebody to do it
Diya Mulani, a 15-year-old Indian pupil

“From cooking and car maintenance to understanding taxes and fostering self-assurance, we aim to prepare them for all aspects of life,” said Ms McCullough.

She said the club was a starting point and she would include boys in its activities.

Diya Mulani, a 15-year-old Indian pupil at the school, said she enjoyed learning how to change a tyre for the first time.

“We got these jumpsuits to wear and it [changing a tyre] was really straightforward,” said Diya.

“I never thought I would learn how to change a tyre when you could just call somebody to do it. But this gives you a sense of independence.

“It's very affirming and I feel like it helps me be more confident. Learning these practical skills makes me feel like a more responsible daughter and sister. I feel like I can actually help my family.”

Holistic development

Other schools focused on outdoor survival skills and helping out at home.

Angela Walters-Harris, head of vocational learning at Gems Founders Al Barsha, said her school offered engineering themed vocational courses where pupils were introduced to the trade with a bicycle workshop.

Pupils learnt how to change a chain and how to fix the gears. They also learnt how to wire electrical circuits.

Cooking classes also taught pupils how to cook one-pot dishes on a small budget.

Schools in the UAE are also looking to ensure pupils can survive in the outdoors. Starting in foundation stage one, pupils are taught the safe bushcraft and tool work. As they get older, tools includes the use of potato peelers, hand drills, hammers, saws, loppers, fixed blades and axes.

Lewis Miller, head of the department of outdoor learning at Gems Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, said their practical skills programme for outdoor learning focused on forest skills.

“The holistic development of our pupils is at the forefront of our teaching,” said Mr Miller.

“Everything is taught through an understanding of practical skills and play theories, facilitating a child-led inquiry approach for all our pupils.”

Jeff Evans, managing director at Learning Key Education Consultancy, said he ran a competition with primary pupils to encourage them to help out at home when he was a former principal at a school in the UAE.

Pupils gained house points for showing they knew how to use the washing machine, mop and brush the floor and wash or dry dishes by hand.

Children aged five and above participate in the Junior Duke Awards, a life skills award for primary school pupils, at Dubai British School Emirates Hills.

Jacqueline Baxter, head of inclusion at Dubai British School Emirates Hills, said pupils had to complete challenges such as cooking, washing a car or polishing their shoes.

Ms Baxter said the school ran a programme called Towards Independence, which was aimed at pupils with special education needs.

“We teach children how to cook, how to budget, we teach children about simple things like going to the supermarket or gardening,” she said.

Updated: June 01, 2024, 12:02 PM