Hundreds of Pakistani pupils in Dubai performing poorly, school report reveals

The report findings were bleak, with almost all pupils in the two Pakistani schools falling well below the lowest international benchmarks for mathematics, science and English.

Students hard at work during class at the Pakistan Education Academy in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
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DUBAI // Hundreds of pupils in two Pakistani schools in the emirate are performing poorly in mathematics, science and reading, according to the findings of an inspection report.

Dubai’s only private Pakistani school improved its rating in the Dubai Schools Inspection Board report but the non-profit school remained unsatisfactory.

Overall, however, the findings in the report released by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) were bleak, with almost all pupils in these schools falling well below the lowest international benchmarks for mathematics, science and English.

In Grade 8, less than 1 per cent of pupils scored at or above international standards, said the report.

“Analysis of results of these two international assessments showed that students in Pakistani schools lack basic skills for real-life applications,” said the report.

“Leaders of Pakistani schools have to work on improving their students’ achievement levels gradually in order to be able to reach the international average ... and then Dubai’s targets for the National Agenda.”

Shafiq Ahmad, who two years ago took over as principal of the privately run Pakistan Education Academy, which moved from unsatisfactory to acceptable and has 1,717 pupils, said his school was on the right track.

“The students are now much more engaged in the classroom and they identify positively with their school,” he said.

“One of the first things we did was to improve the number and quality of teachers here,” he said.

There are now more than 100 teachers at the school, all fully qualified with at least a master’s degree.

The school will also look at potential fee increases, which currently start at Dh6,000 a year, but only after consultation with parents.

Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum Pakistan School Dubai, for the second inspection running, was given an unsatisfactory rating.

No one from the school could be contacted but Javed Jalil Khattak, Pakistan’s consul general in Dubai, said steps were being taken to improve standards for the 1,590 pupils at the school, which is supported by the consulate.

“The issue we face is that because the pupils are from low-income families, it’s not possible to raise fees and, as a result, the revenue the school gets is very small,” he said.

“This means we have less money for equipment, maintenance and staff salaries, which, in turn, means the school can’t attract the best teachers.”

In the past year, the consulate had paid for 30 new projectors, 15 laptops and six air-conditioning units, he said.

KHDA recommended that both schools improve leadership, have objective and rigorous self-assessment, implement an improvement planning scheme, as well as work with individual pupils and assess the standard of teaching.