New census shows school children in Dubai are better rested but teachers are working longer hours

Nearly half of the teachers polled say they were just getting by, but pupils reported high levels of engagement with teachers and friends

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 08 SEPTEMBER 2020.  Affordable schools in Dubai. The Gulf Model School where fees range from Dh350-Dh650 per month located in Al Muhaisinah 4. Four students to a class in some cases observing social distancing. Student Marwan Hashim 14 (Pakistan). (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Anam Rizvi. Section: National.
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More private school pupils in Dubai got a good night's sleep and ate breakfast on time in 2020, the emirate’s wellbeing census revealed.

However, it was not all good news. School teachers reported getting less sleep last year and felt they worked longer hours than in 2019.

More than 102,800 pupils from 189 schools participated in the fourth edition of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority's (KHDA) wellbeing census.

We're seeing students report better sleeping and eating habits, coupled with higher engagement with their teachers

Of nearly 11,000 teachers polled, 39.5 per cent said they got a good night’s sleep, down from 43.3 per cent in 2019 and 45.2 per cent in 2018.

Nearly 60 per cent of pupils in grades six to nine and 41.5 per cent of students in Grades 10 to 12 said they got a good night’s sleep five days a week in 2020, up from 54.2 per cent and 37.1 per cent respectively in 2019.

The census also revealed that more children said they felt confident in their schoolwork.

Nearly 75 per cent of pupils in grades six to nine said they felt interested in schoolwork, up from 70 per cent in 2019.

When it came to breakfast, the results showed children are prioritising the most important meal of the day.

Around 78 per cent of pupils in grade six to nine ate breakfast on time most days of the week in 2020, compared to 69.7 per cent the previous year.

Pupils also reported high levels of engagement with their teachers, even though they studied online for months.

“After weeks and months of distance and blended learning, we’ve seen how resilient our children are," said Dr Abdulla Al Karam, director general of KHDA.

“The results of this fourth census show that our children are getting better sleep, and building better relationships with their friends and their teachers.

“They’re feeling more confident in their schoolwork and they are optimistic about their future.”

About 70 per cent of pupils in grades six to nine reported having better relationships with their teachers, an increase of 11 percentage points compared to the year before.

While the coronavirus outbreak has led to a year of major upheaval for the education sector, the widespread move to home learning brought an end to early starts and long journeys for pupils who do not live close to their school.

Tens of thousands of pupils and teachers in Dubai voiced their views on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their mental wellbeing in the emirate-wide school census.

"This year has given us a lot of interesting data. We’re seeing students report better sleeping and eating habits, coupled with higher engagement with their teachers,” said Hind Al Mualla, chief of creativity, happiness and innovation at KHDA.

The Adults at School Wellbeing Survey measures the wellbeing of school leaders, teachers, teaching assistants and administrative staff.

Of those polled, 63.1 per cent of teachers, 61.5 per cent of school leaders and 36.8 per cent of administrative staff said they felt they worked longer hours in 2020.

"As adults, we have more responsibilities and pressure in our lives, yet it’s important to remember if we want to thrive, we must look after our wellbeing," said Dr Al Karam.