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Higher education resists rise in living costs
3rd June 2006
By Reema Saffarini (Gulf News)
Higher education resists rise in living costs

Dubai: Rising petrol prices, surging costs of essential commodities, increasing medical expenses and the never-ending rent hikes have taken their toll on the pockets of many expatriates living in the UAE.

The Economist Intelligence Unit publisher of The Economist magazine have ranked Dubai and Abu Dhabi as the 71st and 82nd most expensive cities worldwide.

However, this has apparently not impacted the higher education sector.

One issue that continues to haunt parents and students is the annual increase in fees.

Dormitories, laboratories and activities expenses are also added. Books also have a separate budget.

So to get a better understanding of how the higher education sector was affected by the increase in the cost of living, weekly newspaper Notes did a comparative study of tuition fees in six universities. They were picked for their relatively high expatriate presence.

Fees and related costs were compared during the academic years 2004 05 and 2005-06.

To narrow it down, the study concentrated on the business programmes a very popular choice among undergraduate students, based on feedback received from several top educators.

The study covered the American University in Dubai (AUD), the American University of Sharjah (AUS), University of Sharjah, Skyline College, American College of Dubai (ACD) and University of Wollongong Dubai (UOWD).

The results showed that universities were relatively consistent in their fees compared to the previous academic year. There was only a nominal increase (See box).

For example, the increase in AUD's tuition fee for the business administration programme was Dh250.

According to the university, the increase was "due to the move from the quarter to the semester system. The annual tuition has increased to reflect the cost of the additional course."           read more....

Great expectations cause stress in pupils
3rd June 2006
By Wafa Issa (Gulf News)

Dubai: During May and June hundreds of thousands of pupils take exams in the UAE. This period is stressful not only for the pupils but also for the teachers and parents.

Everybody agrees that the exam season is a very demanding time, and that pupils devote a large portion of their day to studies.

Parents and teachers have different methods to help children through this critical period. Some parents and teachers serve as a source of comfort to children while others may cause stress.

Stress is two sided: it can lead to anxiety and depression, but a certain amount of stress is necessary for good performance.

Schools, parents and pupils are divided over the causes of stress, what causes it and the best ways to overcome it.

Gulf News, in an attempt to investigate the levels of stress in educational establishments, spoke to parents students, teachers and experts in the field.

"Stress is a phenomenon that accompanies distinguished students. Distinguished students feel it more than the average students as they are very keen to do well," said Nabogh Nasr, Director of Al Mawa-keb School.

However, Gofran Za'abor, a psychiatrist at a private school in Dubai, believes that high expectations imposed on children by adults are the main source of not only positive stress, but more importantly, negative feelings. These negative feelings do develop in many cases into exam phobia.


"Many parents have high expectation of their children. These parents do not understand the capability and potential of their children, thus they demand more than the child is capable of achieving. These demands become a hurdle in the pupil's studies," she said.

The parents should have a supporting as well as regulating roles in the children's education, she added.

Khalid, a father of three, said that it was important to help children in their studies, especially when they are young and cannot themselves take the responsibility of the exam, and this puts a lot of stress on parents.

"The problem of exams is that the child's performance for the year is so dependent on their results and that puts a lot of stress on us as parents. For instance my wife, who is mainly responsible for the children's education, gets so stressed during this period that not only the children get stressed but also me."

""Exam period is stressful because we have a packed timetable and there is not enough time to prepare for each subject," said Samar, a 20-year-old university student in her final year of Information Technology.

AAlthough pupils admit that stress is a natural element of exams, they say that good preparation and time management help to eliminate it. Supportive parents and teachers also help.

The educational institutes are also as important as parents in helping the pupils overcome stress

"Today schools know that the pupils are more dependent on them for good results. Schools feel that they have 75 per cent of the responsibility, while the parents have 25 per cent," said Joseph Awan Co-Director of Al Mawakeb.

"Schools feel that they have 75 per cent of the responsibility, while the parents have 25 per cent."

Joseph Awan

Co-Director of Al Mawakeb School

Symptoms: Dealing with the silent killer

Common physical and psychological reactions

  • Insomnia, anxiety, muscle tension
  • Indigestion, frequent urge to pass urine
  • Fast, shallow breathing; change of appetite; backache/headache
  • Feeling tense and unable to relax; feeling mentally drained
  • Inability to concentrate or complete tasks; fainting spells; diarrhoea/gastric trouble; asthmatic attacks; vomiting; poor vision

Tips for students

  • Make realistic study plans
  • Assess priorities, assets and difficulties
  • Follow a normal routine; take frequent breaks
  • Do not shun TV or entertainment and outings
  • Feel comfortable about oneself
  • It is helpful to make the student see what he can accomplish
  • Constant encouragement and reassurance is essential from all significant members in the school and family
  • Advise them to contact the teachers or counsellors if they feel low or anxious or disinterested in studies
  • For improved concentration and motivation, students should:
  • Know one's concentration span, study with breaks
  • Group study for difficult subjects
  • Do not let previous results discourage you - identify your weak areas from previous exams
  • Time management plan must be made for all subjects
  • Do not get anxious about the result cross that bridge when you come to it

For parents

  • Guide children in planning, organising and setting a timetable
  • Provide motivation and conducive environment
  • Help the child to develop self-discipline self-direction, self-confidence and a sense of achievement
  • Set realistic aims according the child's capability
  • Do not mix academic issues with family conflicts
  • Humour can help students relax
  • Try to gain your child's confidence and discuss his problems with him
  • Help him to find a solution
  • Accept that expectation for every one to do well is unrealistic

Source: School Tele-counsellors

Gulf pupils perform better than Indian counterparts
23rd May 2006
By Sunita Menon, (Gulf News)

Dubai: Pupils who sat for the Kerala Board Higher Secondary Certificate exams in the Gulf have shown a higher pass percentage than their counterparts in India, say school principals.

According to them, the pass percentage in the region stands at 98.23 per cent while it is just over 64.4 per cent in Kerala.

A total of 791 pupils sat for the examination from 11 schools. About 777 pupils passed, 309 scored distinction, 338 secured first division, 101 scored second division and 29 pupils were placed in the third division.

Of the 11 schools, the Model School, Abu Dhabi ; Our Own Indian School, Dubai and New Indian Model school Al Ain registered 100 percent pass results.

Surendra Nair, Vice-Principal of New India Model School in Dubai said, "Majority of the schools in the region complete their syllabus by November or December. The pupils are then put through rigorous class model tests which is followed by a model examination. We analyse the answer sheets and then all weak children are helped to overcome their weak spots," he said.

School Results: Total marks - 600

The New Indian Model School, Al Ain

Commerce stream: Sanna Abdul Aziz-498 marks, Azhar Ali - 496 marks.

Science stream: Sanjay Sasikumar- 500 marks and Manju Mathew - 493 marks

Our Own Indian School, Dubai

Boys' Section Commerce Stream: Bobin Mukkath Thomas- 503 marks, Manu Mathew John- 460 marks followed by Helton Francis with 418 marks.

Science Stream: Jacob Mathew Thattacattu - 504 marks, Vineeth Vasudevan - 499 marks Rijin Ramesh with 493 marks.

Girls' Section Science Stream: Sithara Sukumar -546 marks, Kathereene Juliana 520 marks and Amritha Kumar secured third position with 514 marks.

The Model School, Abu Dhabi

Science stream: Laya Vijaya Kumar - 567 marks, Mohammed Shakkir Yousuf - 551 marks and Arun Kumar Achuthan Kutty scored 547 marks.

Commerce stream: Jerin George 545 marks, Sruthy V.S. - 543 marks and M.S. Harinath third- 531 marks.

Gulf Model High School, Dubai

Science Stream: Chacko Xavier-525 marks, Allwin James Kunnamkumarath- 501 marks and Jicky Rajan-498 marks.

Commerce Stream: Salwa Assainar Ekkarakudiyil-508 marks, Nusiba Kolayath Abdull-501 marks and Shafana Abdul Razack - 486 marks.

Indian School, Fujairah

Commerce Stream: Aswathi Mohan- 540, Nahla Ahmed Unni - 524 marks and Salman M -518 marks.

Science Stream: Greshana Susan Joseph - 531 marks, Sai Karan Vamsi and Merry Elizabeth Roy - 513 and 509 marks.

The New Indian Model School, Dubai

Science stream: Girls - Azbin Abdul Assiz- 553 marks, Surabhi Soman - 543 marks and Zehra Abdul Rahiman - 534 marks.

Among Boys: Rajesh Raghavan- 545 marks, Navin Sakariya Ibrahim - 528 marks and Justin Moolan Stanly with 526 marks stood third.

In Commerce Stream: Girls- Rizwana Mahmood- 510 marks, Sneha Nityan- 494 marks and Gaana Vijayan O.P- 492 marks.

Boys: Renvin Raj P- 503 marks, Anthony Varghese with 484 marks and Noufal Niyaz O. V. - 482 marks.

New Indian School, Ras Al Khaimah

Science stream: Jahanara - 524 marks

In Commerce: Shamsheela - 441 marks.

New Indian Model School, Sharjah

Science Stream: Gaganpreet Kaur-549 marks, Sanal Ramu Arath- 529 marks followed by Isha Mohammad - 528 marks.

Commerce Stream: Pooja Raghunath - 542 marks, Ashfa Ashraf - 540 marks and Huda Gafoor- 518 marks.

Kerala results

A total of 366,523 pupils sat for the examinations, 217,012 declared passed. Of them, 36,529 won distinction, 74,347 securing First Class, 55,849 Second Class and 50,287 Third Class.

In the Science Group, Prabha Chandran of Neyyattinkara Government BHSS secured the first rank scoring 585 marks.

The First Rank in the humanities group was bagged by K. S. Dhanya Shankar of CGHSS, Palakkad Wadakancherry. He secured 571 marks.

In the commerce group, there are two candidates who have secured the First Rank- Jelpa L Motta of the Ernakulam Thevara Sacred Heart HSS and N. R. Anitha of Thrissur Sacred Heart CGHSS. Both scored 580 marks each. In the Technical Group, K. Fazeela of Malappuram Vattomkulam THSS won the First Rank, scoring 578 marks. P. S. Shalini of Kalamandalam Art HSS, Cheruthuruthy, Thrissur, came first winning 498 marks.

Workshop for Gulf-based students in Kerala
23rd May 2006
(Gulf News)

Abu Dhabi: The Centre for Information and Guidance India (CIGI), based in the southern Indian state of Kerala, will hold its annual residential workshop for students from the GCC countries vacationing in Kerala.

The workshop will be held from July 22 to 26 at Malampuzha in Palakkad district. Students from classes 9 to 12 can apply. "The camp will adopt systematic mentoring of the campers using psychometric tools, counselling with parents, outings and religious and moral value addition," a CIGI statement said.

MMore information can be had from 050-6132466 and 050-6170528 (for Abu Dhabi and Al Ain) and 050-4591599 (for Dubai and Northern Emirates).

Special needs children hit by lack of facilities
21st May 2006
By Bassma Al Jandaly and Alia Al Theeb, (Gulf News)

Umm Al Quwain: Many special needs children are denied proper treatment due to lack of facilities, parents complained to Gulf News.

They said not enough centres for special needs children have been set up.

A parent said private centres are expensive and that there must be a way to help children with special needs get back to normalcy.

He said no such facilities are available in many emirates and if there are, they are too expensive for many to afford.

Ebrahim Mohammad, a UAE national from Umm Al Quwain, is the father of a six-year-old special needs daughter.

His daughter, Eman, suffered from complications during and after birth, which led to her illness.

"Eman is my only daughter. I have another four boys who all are healthy," he said.

"I was not able to find any specialised centre for her as the government does not offer that in Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman or Umm Al Quwain. There is one in Sharjah at the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, but there is no transportation and I cannot offer the annual Dh3,000 fees.

"My salary is Dh3,000 with which I pay house rent and a bank loan, and feed my family." Other treatment for his daughter costs Dh100 per hour.

Eman's mother said: "Eman was a premature baby and was born when I was six months pregnant. She did not cry and took time to drink milk." The doctor advised her to give Eman vitamins.

"I could not take her to a consultant doctor because I did not have the money," her father said.

Mohammad has been taking Eman to Al Thiqa Club for Special Needs in Sharjah to provide physical training for her but time is taking its toll on this family. "We have always wished for a daughter, but seeing her in this situation breaks my heart," the anguished father laments.

No centre in RAK, UAQ and Fujairah

Officials at Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services said admission cost for each child is Dh3,000. Transportation is available only to Ajman, Sharjah and Dubai.

There are no centre for special needs children in Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah. While there are now private centres and clinics which offer such services, each session will cost around Dh200 or more.

Sharjah's Al Thiqa Club for Special Needs offers physical treatment and sports activities only.

The city now has 200 special needs children who are studying there and getting training and therapy for mental, physical and intellectual education.

Low pay affects teaching standards
20th May 2006
(Gulf News)

Dubai: Teachers have reasons for turning up for lessons each day they need to earn a living and support their family. But is that earning enough for them and are teaching standards slipping because of poor pay?

The minimum wage for teachers, as stipulated by the Ministry of Education, is Dh2,000 and many working in the profession earn this amount or little more. Some teachers have seen their pay remain almost static in recent years.

Juma Al Salami, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Education, said the minimum wage should be increased to Dh5,000.

In a Gulf News poll, 84.05 per cent of respondents said they thought UAE education standards were affected by the low salaries of teachers while 13.66 per cent said they were not likely to be affected and 2.278 per cent were unsure.

Shivendra Singh, 31, a sales executive from India, said salaries for many teachers in Dubai were "too little". "They are not enough to survive in a city like Dubai. Teachers should earn more than Dh5,000 a month."

Lebanese administration assistant Zeina Akl, 34, who has two children, one of whom is at school, said low pay for teachers was a problem across the world. "Teachers have low pay in all countries, even the United States. I think more ... than low pay (the problem) is that schools here are too commercial and they put more stress on activities than they do on the academic programme. The best schools are the non-profit schools that are supported by the embassies."

Elizabeth Loadwick, from Australia, knows all about the issue of teachers' pay since she is a school principal. She said a major problem was that teachers were paid according to nationality, with Indian teachers, for example, tending to earn less than their European counterparts. She said this never happened in her school and said it should be stamped out elsewhere.

According to Yasmin Al Ahmad, 27, an administration manager from Syria, "Their salaries should start from at least Dh6,000 per month ... these people are educating the next generation and their job is very important".

Assistant sales manager Abraham Jacob, 33, said: "The cost of living is getting higher every day, but the salaries are not," he said.

Joyce Pais, 60, from India, who used to work as an executive secretary, said: "I have a lot of friends in the teaching profession, and it's just too bad. (At) some of the Indian schools, they give the teachers so much work, charts and projects, to do. I have a friend who is a teacher. She has two children and she doesn't go to bed until 2am because she has so much work to do.

"Her salary is Dh2,000 and they take Dh200 out of that for the bus to school so she only gets Dh1,800."

Syrian engineer Essam Sharkah, 44, an engineer who has two children at school in the UAE, said teachers should not get paid less than Dh5,000 a year.

Rekha Balakrishnan, a 33-year-old holiday company consultant from India who has a nine-year-old daughter, said: "I think the quality of education is not really that great in these schools I think teachers' pay is one of a number of reasons."

British cabin crew worker Katherine Hammersley, 22, said: "Teachers are invaluable .... As with any job, if teachers are low paid then there's no motivation for them to really work hard."

One person who took a different view was Tafrari Lakew, 34, a businessman from Ethiopia. He said a salary of about Dh2,500, if accommodation was also provided, should be enough for a teacher.

Indian cleaning supervisor Ahmad Yunus Surve, 47, said teachers' salaries had to come from school fees and these were already too high and big salary hikes for teachers would make life harder for families.

Friday-Saturday weekend for private sector under study
18th May 2006
By Diaa Hadid (Gulf News)


Dubai: The Labour Ministry is considering granting the private sector a two-day weekend following a Cabinet decision to make the country's official weekend Friday and Saturday.

Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi told reporters yesterday the issue will be debated in the ministry's advisory council. "We still have to discuss this issue with commerce and industry chambers, and with businessmen," he said.

The minister did not set a time limit for discussions or say if any measure can be taken through a ministerial decision usually issued to interpret the UAE's federal labour laws or whether new legislation will have to be passed.

He said regardless of any decision taken, "the private sector will decide the days of the weekend" according to each company's needs. At present, the Federal Labour Law gives workers only Friday off.

The UAE has decided to set the official weekend as Friday and Saturday for public sector establishments and all schools from September 1.

Meanwhile, UAE residents told Gulf News the decision would have a positive impact on the performance of the public and private sectors as it would do away with conflicting weekends.

Dubai Women's College holds its first student elections
18th May 2006
By Reema Saffarini (Gulf News)
Dubai Womens College Elections

Dubai: The Dubai Women's College held its first student parliament elections yesterday.

The balloting was held to help students understand the "democratic process".

Dr Howard Reed, Director of Dubai Women's College, told Gulf News: "This is a good way for students to get a feel of elections and voting, of their negatives and positives. Creating a parliament based on elections is one way for us to prepare our students for the future."

Students voted for three sophomore students, for the post of president. Results will be announced on Saturday.

"We are looking at creating change," said Khadijah Al Beloushi, a communication technology student and candidate. "The parliament will link the student body with the administration and get more students involved in the decision-making process."

The elections will be an annual event held in the second semester of each academic year.

Dubai school holds exhibition
Monday, May 15 - 2006
An exhibition focusing on environmental issues and entitled, Seeds of Change, opened yesterday at the Dubai Modern High School, reported Gulf News. The exhibition, which features pictures of individuals such as Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Mathai, will stay at the school until May 17, after which it will permanently tour around all of Dubai's schools, informing children about a sustainable environment, economic justice and human rights.
Dubai Education Council launches The National Institute For Vocational Education (NIVE)
Tuesday, April 11 - 2006
Under the directives of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai Education Council today announced the launch of the National Institute for Vocational Education based at the Academic City in Dubai.
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