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29 May 2024

Telling tweets: Cheeky students reveal all to ensure KHDA's school inspections aren’t a sham

By Sneha May Francis

“My school's logic: The KHDA is visiting us, let's act like we are the best school in the entire universe, ” read a tweet.
“Teachers act so fake when KHDA enters our classroom,” read another.
“My school looks brand new today...loads of management about and freshly painted walls. That would be a KHDA inspection day,” read yet another one.
These are just some of the telling tweets that students put out in the virtual world to inform the education regulatory authority of how some schools do attempt to trick school inspectors.
This situation, however, isn’t something that the Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) is unaware of. The inspectors confirmed that there are some schools that do try and cheat them.
And, often it’s the students who signal them when something is amiss.
“Throughout the year, we do check out Twitter and other sources, apart from our student surveys, to get a sense of what’s going on,” confirms an inspector. “The amusing and insightful information help us.”
Sometimes it’s not the social media or surveys that direct the inspectors. Some students even pass chits to the group, telling them about the reality.
“One time I had a student write me a chit saying that they had never done group work before. And that, it was being done only for the inspection,” informed an inspector.
“The children will tell you.”
School inspections in Dubai are often speculated to be a five-day-long “carnival”, with school staff and students working overtime to ensure their institution appears perfect on D-day.
Teachers are told to teach in a certain way, while students are made to do new worksheets, all because the school is keen on impressing the inspectors for a good rating.
“It is like a carnival. There’s no school work done in those days prior to the inspection. All the energy is diverted to dressing up the place,” informed a parent, on condition of anonymity.
“Some teachers even mentioned in our surveys that they were trained to teach certain models during inspections,” confirmed a principal inspector.
“What schools don’t often realise is that we talk to the teachers and students outside the inspection.”
She elaborated how during her inspection she had encountered a teacher, who claimed she was asked by her superior to teach in a certain way only to make an impression. “She didn’t listen to her principal because she wasn’t comfortable with the directive. I am glad she did it her way because she did a superb job.”
The inspectors accepted that some tidying up is acceptable, but things like “buying new furniture” isn’t.
“When we ask the schools to show us what’s the best they can offer, we are not saying trick us,” she asserted.
The cracks, she insisted, does appear in the third or fourth day. “They can’t put up an act for five days. It does show. So, we are aware of what’s going on.
“They are actually doing themselves a disservice.”
The inspectors, however, don’t confront the schools when they do catch them red-handed. “We are not in the business of confronting. We look at the outcomes and the impact. Plus, it all has to fit together. If part of it are fake, the picture won’t fit together.”


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