Four in five pass new school certificate

Improvements shown in Grade 12 exam results and in percentage able to bypass extra English courses before university.

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ABU DHABI // Almost four-fifths of schoolchildren passed their final-year certificate, based in part on new-style nationwide exams, according to results released yesterday. They were the first full-year results for new exams that put more emphasis on analytical skills, and less on rote learning. Some 78.4 per cent of Grade 12 students in UAE schools passed, although the overall figure - 62.6 per cent - was dragged down by the results of mature students and home-schooled pupils.

The results include marks from exams taken last month and in December, as well as from coursework completed throughout the year. There has been pressure on the Ministry of Education (MoE) to revert to the old-style tests since 40 per cent of students failed the first batch of the new exams, in December. Meanwhile, there was a small but significant rise in the number of applicants to federal universities who will be able to begin their courses without first taking remedial English lessons.

Some 76 per cent passed the Common Educational Proficiency Assessment (Cepa) English test, down from 78 per cent last year. However, 13 per cent - 2,100 students - did so with high enough marks to bypass English foundation courses, up from 11 per cent last year. That follows government efforts to improve English-language education in schools teaching the ministry curriculum. Aisha al Marri, the director of assessment and examination at the MoE, said the Grade 12 year-end results were not final because some students would be allowed to resit.

Humaid al Qutami, the Minister of Education, said there was "no doubt that this year's marks indicated an improvement in the level of education here". Rashid al Nuaimi, the director general of the MoE, said student performance had improved since the December tests: "We didn't make the exams easier for students this term, compared to last term. The exam questions still required analytical thinking and problem-solving skills, but the difference is that students and teachers were better prepared and knew what to expect, which made student performance improve."

Last month, an official report found that English-language teaching in Dubai state schools remained subpar.