Expat teachers in Abu Dhabi blamed for poor pupil performance

Published:  26 Apr at 6 PM
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UAE lawmakers and the Minister of State of Public Education recently found themselves embroiled in a heated debate over the comparative merits of expat versus Emirati teachers.

The main thread of the argument was that Emirati children who’re failing public school education in huge numbers would be better served by Emirati teachers rather than by foreign teachers who’ve taken jobs from qualified locals. One FNC member asked why a high number of teachers from overseas are still being hired by public schools when Emirati teachers can instil the UAE’s values and morals as well as conventional subjects.

According to statistics, the ministry hired some 3,430 foreign teachers over the past 18 months, with Westerners making up 1,500 of the total. No details of how many Emirati teachers were hired over the same period were given. One lawmaker stated the number of jobs given to foreigners meant the same number of UAE citizen teachers were still unemployed, adding that the ministry needs to focus on the hiring of Emirati teachers, thus ensuring the totals of foreign teachers in the emirates will decline as a result.

Another FNC member pointed out students’ fluency in English is the goal of parents as well as teachers, as is a better overall education for all the emirate’s young people, even although grades are disappointing at present. The Minister of State for Public Education replied the ministry’s decision was taken on the basis that certain international standards need to be met, despite the high numbers of qualified Emirati teachers who remain unable to get a job.

The English language, she said, is an essential part of the UAE’s education system, making it important that all students are able to study it, adding that new subjects which Emiratis are unable to teach are being introduced into the curriculum and need qualified expat teachers. The minister also explained many of the failures had been during the first semester, as occurs in other countries all over the world.
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