DUBAI: Schools asked to come out of textbook culture
By Rizwan Khatik - Thu Sep 22, 3:45 am
DUBAI — A workshop hosted by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) at the British University in Dubai for representatives of 134 public and private schools on Tuesday suggested that Dubai-based schools need to break out of the textbook culture and focus more on preparing students’ proficiency for life.
The two-day workshop for school principals and faculty was aimed to raise schools’ awareness on how to get the most out of findings of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 results, a global study that evaluates through a series of tests the knowledge 15-year-olds picked up during school years and how much they are capable of applying it in life outside school.
“At the age of 15, students can leave compulsory schooling so you need to think of a situation where at that point they are ready enough to face the real world based on their knowledge and skills. Dubai has committed itself to this data analysis and international benchmarking and this is something that measures which we do not often measure in terms of education,” speaker Mike Helal, Regional Director, MENA, of Parkville Global Advisory.
He added that schools should encourage students to take up healthy reading practices that can further add to their knowledge, instead of sticking to the assigned academic textbooks.
“The difference is that PISA looks at your functional literacy and how well can you use skills from your education in real world context. Dubai scored the highest in the MENA region but there is more to be done if you want to reach international averages,” he said.
About 5,620 students from 134 schools were tested for PISA in April and May 2009. This was the first time Dubai participated in the evaluation. Dubai was ranked 42nd in reading proficiency, 41st in mathematics and 41st in science out of 65 countries around the world.
“The results will give schools an overview of their students and where they are standing in terms of levels so they can work towards improvement. Compared to the KHDA inspection results, we cannot say they are not similar but this is something different than inspection. The elements of it are interconnected in terms of evaluation. It is directed more towards empowerment and engagement of schools, and also identifies student factors, school factors and home environment factors that play a role in 15-year-olds’performance. We always aim for better but we cannot specify or pinpoint where we want to be because it’s our first participation. Once we get the results of PISA 2012, we will be able to see the trend in Dubai,” Fatma Al Janahi, KHDA’s Head of International Assessments said.
The field trial for the upcoming PISA 2012 report has already been conducted during April and May this year and the main study will be done during April and May 2012.
The next PISA report is slated for release by the end of year 2013.