A report on government schools in UAE
She examined eight government secondary schools in the Northern Emirates, four of them girls' and four boys' schools. Each school was observed over a six-month period.These findings strongly echo those of Elya Zureik in 2006.
The research assessed performance using six quality indicators derived from school quality research, such as outcomes, learner characteristics, teacher characteristics, resources, leadership and safety/ethos.
According to the research findings, the percentage of girls passing examinations was higher or comparable to boys across subjects and grades.
Drop-out rates in Grade 10, however, rose sharply by 25 per cent for boys, compared with around 4 per cent for girls.
Male teachers had on average twice the years of experience as female teachers, she said. "This was interesting considering that despite all their experience their students were performing much worse than those of the female teachers."
It was also revealed that girls' classrooms were more interactive and made use of more group activities than boys' classrooms.
"Boys on the other hand had schools that were cold and in which teachers taught predominantly through lectures. Boys were more likely to be hit, to fail or to drop-out as a result. All of this points to a need to look much more closely at the quality of education for boys. It is important to note that there are external factors affecting in particular the decision of boys to drop out, such as high salaries in public sector jobs that require minimum education."
"There is a widespread perception of the Middle East as a place in which girls are disadvantaged; but in recent reports from the World Bank and Unesco, statistics are showing that boys in the Middle East region are having significant difficulties," she said.
"In the UAE, girls are also outperforming boys across all subjects in national examinations and anecdotally this is the same in many countries in the region. However, we continue to read about the problems and difficulties faced by girls despite evidence which shows that, in terms of schooling, boys are not doing as strongly as girls," said Ridge who submitted her research findings to the Dubai School of Government, where she is a research fellow.
Educational policies are by no means gender-specific but the study indicates that factors like a less stimulating school environment, lack of support from teachers for boys unable to cope with their workload, and a general perception that school life has no bearing on success in life or career prospects have flawed the focus of school-going boys.