In the news yesterday, there was an article about how 90% of U.A.E. high school graduates are unprepared for University. The recently hired Provost of the Higher Colleges of Technology, the schools I work for, was quoted extensively in the article. There are a number of statistics given showing the number of students who need to complete college preparatory courses before they are suitable for studying at the university level. These are generally the students that I teach.
Unfortunately, while the article is full of examples of students that need these "foundations" courses in Math and English, along with descriptions of the students' situations, not much is written about the causes of the problem. The only mention of this talks about how students go from wrote-learning in high school to an environment where they have to analyze data and think critically (sound familiar to anyone in Japan?). Having taught rooms full of students who couldn't sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time last year, I don't know if I would attribute this situation to that entirely, but it is one reason among many.
One thing that the online article misses which was in the print version, are opinions from four Emirati students. Two of the students felt that the foundation programs were a waste of their time a third thought that he knew the Math, but since he studied it in Arabic in High School, the program taught the the Math in English, which he needed for University. The fourth felt that it prepared him for the change in teacher dynamic required for university.
Personally, I find that the students I teach this year are much more able to sit and study than the students I had last year. At first, I thought it was because I was teaching a higher level of student but after talking with other teachers who are teaching the lowest students, they all agree that that students this year are much more respectful that last year.
Overall, I thought the article was well worth a read, especially for people who are considering coming to the U.A.E. (Click here to read the article.) Also, I give the people who released the data, the credit for realizing that there needs to be a change.