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Students who stay in Dubai longer reported higher levels of happiness, according to new data revealed by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). Additionally, eight out of 10 students (84%) in Dubai’s private schools reported high levels of happiness.

The census covered almost 65,000 students from Grades 6 to 9 (Years 7 to 10) across 168 schools in Dubai.

Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director General of KHDA said, “The census results are a milestone for the education sector because we now have a baseline that tells us how our students are doing when it comes to their wellbeing. Eighty-four per cent of children at school say they’re happy most of the time and this is really good news.”

Relationships are a key driver of student wellbeing and happiness. Students in younger grades reported higher levels of happiness and felt more connected to adults at school and at home. The census findings were announced to school leaders and wellbeing practitioners at an event in Al Jalila Cultural Center for Children.

Dr Abdulla added, “The ecosystem of education should be one which prepares children for the tests of life, not a life of tests. The census is designed to be a tool that encourages schools and families to have a conversation with their children and look at ways to develop positive relationships and enhance wellbeing.”

Hind Al Mualla, Chief of Creativity, Happiness & Innovation at KHDA said, “We now have a very good understanding of what shapes the wellbeing of young people and how it can be improved. This is the start of a journey towards our long-term goal to create greater happiness in our schools.”

She added, “The census shows us the importance of having good relationships as students’ progress through school years – especially as they transition to high school and adolescence. One of the key factors affecting student wellbeing is the quality of relationships they have with adults at home and school. It’s not just about improving relationships between students and teachers but also about maintaining good relationships with family. We also have to enhance the relationship between teachers and parents for the benefit of our children.”

The census data provides schools with an in-depth understanding of how students feel about their school life, home life, themselves and their relationships with others. The data will also provide insight into student attitudes towards their experiences in and out of school.

“Every school will receive an insight into their student wellbeing scores and KHDA will facilitate special workshops with international experts for all schools in Dubai. By bringing schools together to understand the importance of wellbeing, we are looking at a better future for our schools.”

The census is run by Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai in partnership with the Government of South Australia.

David Engelhardt, Director, Department for Education and Child Development at Government of South Australia said, “Dubai now has one of the most comprehensive datasets on children’s happiness and wellbeing in the world.  This will be of enormous benefit in helping schools, communities and governments develop plans to improve the happiness of the children of Dubai.”

“KHDA’s achievement in delivering a Wellbeing Census covering every school and offering every child in the middle years the opportunity to tell their story is world class. To deliver this in only nine months from commencing this project is a remarkable effort. The South Australian government and KHDA are committed to work together in coming years to build upon this foundation.”