Students in Dubai’s private schools reported high levels of wellbeing and happiness, according to new data revealed by Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
As part of a city-wide study of wellbeing in students, four out of five students reported high levels of satisfaction in life (81%). Covering more than 95,000 students in 181 schools, the census measured social and emotional wellbeing among students in Grades 6 to 9 and Grades 10 to 12.
More than 450 educators witnessed the launch of the wellbeing census results at KHDA’s What Works forum hosted in Amity University Dubai in the presence of Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing and Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director General of KHDA.
Speaking at the event, Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi highlighted the UAE government’s emphasis on promoting the National Agenda for Wellbeing and its effort to provide a better quality of life – while enhancing wellbeing in learning environments.
The Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing also praised KHDA’s efforts in promoting wellbeing in the education community and its leadership of the wellbeing census for students and adults at school.
Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director General of KHDA said, “The results from the first year of the Census taught us that student wellbeing doesn’t only depend on schools or teachers, but on the whole community working together. So, we decided to expand our measurement of wellbeing to include adults at schools too.”
For the first time ever, teachers and school staff were also covered as part of the wellbeing survey. More than 13,000 teachers, principals, school administrators and support staff at Dubai schools shared their insights in a separate Adults@School Wellbeing Survey.
Designed to encourage adults at private schools in Dubai to understand and improve their own wellbeing, all participating teachers and school staff received individual reports with suggestions on how to improve their wellbeing based on their PERMAH (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, accomplishment, and health) score.
“The results told us that 95 per cent of adults at schools are thriving or functioning. Adults got the highest wellbeing scores around their own individual strengths, then the strengths of their team, followed by the strengths of their organisation. Schools and teachers should use the results of the wellbeing survey to share their strengths and focus on areas of improvement.” added Dr Abdulla.
This year’s census focused on satisfaction with life as a key domain with 81 per cent of students reporting they were satisfied with life. In addition, 81 per cent of students said they were happy, and 85 per cent said they were optimistic.
Highlighting the role of schools as part of the Year of Tolerance, 83 per cent of students believed that teachers and students treat each other with respect in their schools, while 78 per cent of students believe that other students in their schools help each other, even if they’re not friends.
Hind Al Mualla, Chief of Creativity, Happiness and Innovation at KHDA said, “Our journey towards better wellbeing continues to bring the community together as we do things differently. Schools are using the wellbeing data to see how they can influence students positively and further enhance their experience in life.”
Launched in 2017, the Dubai Student Wellbeing Census aims to find out how students feel and think about their own wellbeing, happiness, quality of life, and relationships.
Hind added, “Having good relationships as students’ progress in life is very important. The quality of relationships they have with adults at home and school enhances wellbeing levels. It’s not just about the relationship between teachers and students but also the feeling of being connected to someone at home.”
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.
Educators attending What Works Being Well Dubai shared how they used the results from the first year of the census to further improve wellbeing at their schools and discussed measures that could be introduced to improve teacher and principal wellbeing.
Erika Elkady, Head of Secondary at Jumeira Baccalaureate School said, “The results are helpful as they start conversations with students, parents and staff regarding areas of wellbeing we value, why we value these and how we can further develop them. We were surprised to see how late some of our students go to sleep. We need parental support to ensure that students get enough hours of sleep each night.”
Mathew Ashton, Assistant Head Teacher (Secondary) at Safa Community School said, “The results allow us to focus our attention on areas for improvement and these direct our action plans moving forward. They will be even more useful this year as we can potentially see the impact of our interventions. We have set up a wellbeing centre at school that students can go to if they require extra support or they are having a particularly challenging day. Students created this space and it has a very calming feel that allows students to relax and reflect utilising many mindfulness techniques in the process.”
What is the wellbeing census?
The first ever Dubai Student Wellbeing Census measures how students in Dubai’s private schools feel and think about their own wellbeing. The five-year project helps schools to improve student wellbeing and supports Dubai’s vision to be among the five happiest cities in the world by 2021.