Appreciating Male Emirati Teachers
Al Qasimi Foundation
December 22, 2013
As only approximately 20 percent of male teachers in the United Arab Emirates’ government schools are Emirati, the Al Qasimi Foundation thought it was important, in celebration of the United Arab Emirates National Day, to learn more about this vital, yet underrepresented, group.
Accordingly, the Foundation took the opportunity this November to survey seven of Ras Al Khaimah’s male Emirati teachers—Aaref Al Shal, Ahmad Al Mansori, Ahmed Mohammad Al Matroshi, Ahmad Juma, Ali Zaid Abdullah Al Hebsi, Musa Mohammad Al Hammadi, and Saeed Abdul Samad Ali—about their motivation for becoming educators, the most rewarding aspects of their careers, the challenges they face, and their desire to encourage more Emirati men to pursue careers in education.
The interview participants ranged from veterans like Ahmed Mohammad Al Matroshi, who has taught science and math at Al Burairat School for over 20 years, to newer professionals like Ali Zaid Abdullah Al Hebsi, who joined the Al Rams School three years ago to teach Information Technology (IT).
Most of these men began their careers as teachers and did so out of a desire to serve students and to help strengthen and shape the future of the United Arab Emirates.
Ali Zaid Abdullah Al Hebsi believes, “The teaching profession enlightens minds, increases knowledge, and influences people. The school is a beautiful environment because it has mix of cultures and innovations that benefit the community.”
Despite the impact of this vocation, the last 20 years have witnessed a nationwide decline in the numbers of male Emirati educators. Ras Al Khaimah has a higher percentage of male Emirati teachers than some other emirates, but the possibility that some schools will have no Emirati male teachers in the near future remains cause for concern.
According to Saeed Abdul Samad Ali, an IT teacher at Ghalila School, the number of male Emirati teachers has fallen as his colleagues have left education for other professions, leaving local boys with few teachers who can connect with them through their shared Emirati culture.
Longtime teacher Ahmad Mohammad Al Matroshi also recognizes this dilemma, saying, “Although I’m not the only local teacher in my school, among Ras Al Khaimah educators, we represent a fraction (of the teaching force), and this makes me feel sad and distressed . . . I encourage young Emiratis to choose the teaching profession, but it is a daunting line of work with weak returns compared to other professions.”
In Ras Al Khaimah, the noble profession—as it has been described by one teacher—faces competition from jobs in other sectors, which often offer more appealing financial packages in attractive urban hubs like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Consequently, these interviewees believe that more male Emiratis would join the ranks of teachers if they were provided with better support systems and given the same rewards and privileges that other professions offer.
Until such improvements take place, the teachers believe that anyone considering their career path must be motivated by the mission of education rather than by its salary.
A geography teacher at Al Munaie School, Ahmad Juma, represents the attitude held by many male Emirati teachers, “Full of determination and pride, I tell people I am the only citizen teacher in my school. I am happy to be a role model for my students. I want my nation to be proud of them. I want the boys to contribute to the development of their country in all fields, and teaching is one of the most important careers because, without education, health, and security, we are nothing.”