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Emirati Boys Suffer Due to Teacher Disinterest

Samihah Zaman, Gulf News
September 24, 2014

In addition to ensuring that Emirati teachers remain motivated, education officials must also exert more efforts to help expatriate public school teachers remain passionate about their jobs.

This is because nearly 90 percent of male teachers in the UAE’s public schools are expatriates, and they have a big influence on the young Emirati boys in their charge, said Soha Shami, associate researcher at the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research.

“Because male teachers are demotivated, Emirati boys in public schools get fewer opportunities to develop themselves, compared to Emirati girls. And because only about 11 percent of these male teachers are Emirati, Emirati boys also come across fewer role models,” Shami said, quoting research conducted by Dr. Natasha Ridge, Executive Director at the Foundation. 

In comparison, nearly 70 percent of female teachers in public schools are Emirati, and these teachers have access to better salaries and more professional development opportunities. As a result, girls in public schools are taught by more motivated teachers who can inspire them. 

"While it may be difficult to equalise pay scales for Emirati and expat teachers, it is important to at least offer them the same chances to develop their skills, or the same rewards and recognition for their achievements. This will benefit male pupils who are mainly taught by expatriates, especially as fewer and fewer male Emiratis are getting into teaching,” Shami added.

The findings were presented at the fifth annual education conference in the capital, which was organised by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research. The two-day event that concluded today (September 24) saw education officials, teachers and leaders discuss challenges in the field, and offer recommendations for creating a culture of excellence in the classroom. 

According to statistics presented at the forum, the proportion of Emirati teachers in public schools across the country is on the decline. Between 2010 and 2014, the percentage of female teachers fell from 71 percent to 65 percent. The share of male Emirati teachers has remained at 11 percent over the same period, said Dr. Ahmad Al Sagheer, associate professor of education at the University of Sharjah.

Shami added that in some public schools, there are no male Emirati teachers at all.

"There are a number of reasons that contribute to this lack of interest in the teaching profession. While teachers face a heavy work load, they must also stand up to the lack of respect for pupils and many parents,” she said.

Dr. Al Sagheer also called for the salaries of public school teachers to be linked to living standards and costs in the UAE, and for legislation to protect their rights and needs.