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UAE pupils improve maths and science skills, global study shows

DUBAI // Pupils across the UAE continue to improve their maths and science skills, but are still performing below international average, according to a global study released on Tuesday.

More than 600,000 students around the world participated in TIMSS, or the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies, a large-scale international assessment of mathematics and science education for pupils in grades 4 and 8 that is carried out every four years.

Pupils from more than 50 countries participated in the latest round of examinations, which were administered last year to 20,000 fourth-graders and 18,000 eighth-graders in public and private schools across the UAE.

The data showed that Grade 4 pupils in the UAE achieved an average score of 452 in maths and 451 in science, with 500 being the TIMSS average score. TIMSS also measures the results on a scale of four international benchmarks: low (400), intermediate (475), high (550) and advanced (625).

The UAE’s 2015 scores are an improvement from 2011, when Grade 4 pupils scored 434 in maths and 428 in science. The latest results show the UAE outperformed all GCC countries except for Bahrain in Grade 4 science.

In Grade 4 maths, for example, Kuwait scored 353, Saudi Arabia 383, Oman 425, Qatar 439 and Bahrain 451. In Grade 4 science, the GCC scores are: Kuwait 337, Saudi Arabia 390, Oman 431, Qatar 436 and Bahrain 459.

Grade 8 pupils in the UAE are No 1 in maths and science compared to their GCC neighbours, earning a 465 in maths and 477 in science. This is also an improvement from 2011, when pupils in the UAE scored 456 and 465, respectively.

By comparison, in Grade 8 maths, Saudi Arabia scored 368, Kuwait 392, Oman 403, Qatar 437 and Bahrain 454. In Grade 8 science, Saudi Arabia scored 396, Kuwait 411, Oman 455, Qatar 457 and Bahrain 466.

The UAE Vision 2021 has placed a strong emphasis on how the Government wants children to perform on TIMSS. The first key performance indicator listed on the government’s vision for a First-Rate Education System outlines that it wants pupils in the UAE to place “among the top 15 countries” in the TIMSS.

“[TIMSS] provided decision makers in the UAE with international comparisons for measuring student knowledge and skills in mathematics and science,” said Moza Al Ghfeli of the Ministry of Education assessment department,.

“The UAE’s participation in TIMSS also helped the country to identify the contextual indicators of student performance and achievement in these two subjects.”

Jamila Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, said that the Ministry of Education has crafted a plan to achieve positive results in the TIMSS international assessments, ensuring alignment with the national agenda and the UAE 2021 vision. The ministry has laid down steps to move forward in achieving the best results in the next TIMSS.

“We focused on developing individual goals for each school in the coming TIMSS, and we developed objectives for our strategic partners, Abu Dhabi Education Council and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, with a total goal for the UAE during the next TIMSS,” she said.

“We issued smart school reports that enable schools to analyse their results from the two studies.”

Ms Al Muhairi said that by the next session, slated for 2019, the UAE will be able to rank among the top 15 nations globally.

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The National