Home LearningDid You Know? Making Wellbeing Count in Dubai’s Schools

Making Wellbeing Count in Dubai’s Schools

by Eddie Rayner

Taking a closer look at how Dubai’s schools have adopted wellbeing, a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has outlined the impact of initiatives and programmes rolled out by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in recent years.

The report was released to educators in Dubai during a special session hosted as part of KHDA’s Wellbeing Festival.

According to the OECD review of wellbeing policies and practices: “In recent years, KHDA and Dubai’s private schools have pursued a number of initiatives to increase levels of happiness and wellbeing across the sector. Such efforts have helped raise awareness of the importance of wellbeing across the sector. More importantly, they have encouraged school leaders, teachers, parents, and students to better understand the concept of wellbeing, not only in the form of daily habits but also as a long-term commitment for themselves and the system as a whole.”

Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the OECD said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that it is insufficient to assume that student wellbeing and strong social and emotional skills come as an automatic result of a good academic education. They need to be part of an intentional design of learning environments and the organisation of schools. Following recommendations from the ‘OECD Review of Well-being Policies and Practices in Dubai’s Private School Sector, KHDA is leading that charge.”

The new report provides an overview of Dubai’s wellbeing journey and offers considerations on how to strengthen policies and practices.

KHDA Wellbeing Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the OECD

New OECD report outlines Dubai schools’ wellbeing journey


Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Director-General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), said: “The pandemic has made us think about the true purpose of education, and the real value of wellbeing. There’s been so much progress in recent years when it comes to wellbeing research and wellbeing data, and we’re very happy that our private school sector is now part of that. We’ve learned a lot in this journey towards better wellbeing and now is the time to look towards the future.”

The new report calls on schools to further collaborate, learn and engage in finding solutions that support the wellbeing of students and staff. 

According to the OECD report: “KHDA is a strong advocate for student wellbeing, raising awareness of its importance, introducing data collection tools and encouraging stakeholder collaboration platforms. School-level initiatives have also been introduced across the sector. The goal now is to ensure that policies and practices have a more significant impact in supporting students’ wellbeing.”


Key initiatives by KHDA have shaped school practices and initiatives


Hind Al Mualla, Chief of Creativity, Happiness and Innovation at KHDA said, “The focus on wellbeing represents a big shift in how we’ve traditionally viewed the purpose of education. For us, wellbeing is a way of life. It’s not only important at school, but also at work and at home. We’ll be working closely with our community to put in place the recommendations of the OECD report”

In addition to initiatives such as the Dubai [email protected] Wellbeing Survey and the Teachers of Dubai campaign, KHDA has also provided several opportunities for teachers’ professional collaboration and development.

“Inspired by KHDA’s efforts, private schools are increasingly providing teachers with tools and information to encourage them to adhere to healthy habits that support their physical and mental well-being, and to help them cope with the challenges that arise from work,” read the report.


Special sessions to train educators in Dubai on a whole-school approach to wellbeing


School leaders, governors, wellbeing champions and teachers also heard from OECD experts to further understand the review at a webinar hosted recently. The sessions are designed to provide practical recommendations and insights on wellbeing in education.

The three online sessions focus on different aspects of the review, ranging from creating a whole-school approach to wellbeing to effectively improving teacher wellbeing.