Boys Do Bad at School in the Persian Gulf

Despite education reforms and more than enough money, more and more boys have been dropping out of high schools in the United Arab Emirates for the past decades. Currently about 25% of boys in the Gulf region do not finish high school. They often choose jobs in the public sector, the army or police force instead. And those who do finish are older and have often repeated grades.

As a result, only 30% of the universities are made up of male students. Such a low rate has economic effects for a country in which few women will marry a man with lower education. A large number of male foreigners will instead take over higher positions in the Emirate economy.


In an oil-rich region such as the Persian Gulf, families are so wealthy that their children do not need to study hard. Boys often come to school with personal helpers who carry their suitcases for them and help them with their homework. They rely on them to do everything they would otherwise have to do themselves. But what comes after oil runs out in the Gulf?

In Dubai, although public schools get enough money from the government, only 40% of all children attend them. The rest go to private schools where teachers are not only better but more interested in pushing children towards a higher education. Public schools often have teachers from other Arab countries, like Egypt, Syria and Jordan. There, boys and girls are separated. Motivation is low in such schools and pupils seem uninterested in learning. Experts agree that teacher training throughout the Emirates is a high priority and needs to be improved.

According to parent and educators there are many mistakes that have been made in the past. One of them is the population’s widespread thinking that the government will always supply young citizens with jobs. Authorities are convinced that just pouring money into the school system won’t achieve the desired results. Their aim is to have more Emirati males finish high schools and go on to universities, where they will get degrees and a vision for their future.



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  • according to = as said by ….
  • achieve = to be successful, to get a good result
  • agree = to have the same opinion on something
  • aim = plan
  • although = while
  • attend = go to school
  • authority = official organization or a government department that has the power to make decisions
  • convince = to make someone believe something
  • decade = a period of ten years
  • degree = qualification you have when you have finished university studies
  • desired = something that you want
  • despite = even though
  • drop out = not finish
  • economy = a system by which a country’s products are produced and sold
  • educator = a person who teaches
  • effect = result
  • Emirate = from the United Arab Emirates
  • expert = a person who knows a lot about a topic
  • foreigner = a person from another country
  • improve = make better
  • male = men
  • otherwise = or else
  • pour = here: invest a lot
  • priority = something that is very important
  • public school = school that is run by the state
  • public sector = industries and services that are controlled by the government
  • push towards = here: try to get children to study on at a university
  • rate = number
  • rely = depend on, need
  • repeat = to do again
  • run out = come to an end
  • separate = divide
  • supply = give, provide someone with something
  • throughout = in all of
  • United Arab Emirates = a country in the Middle East made up of seven small countries ruled by an emir; the most important ones are Abu Dhabi and Dubai
  • vision = dream, hope
  • wealthy = rich
  • widespread = common, general