The State of Positive Education in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
As part of Vision 2021 and the National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031 (Emirates News Agency, 2019), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has begun the journey of implementing positive education (PE). As a facet of positive psychology, PE focuses on school-based interventions and programs that target student well-being to ensure that youth are developing skills that contribute to their happiness and support their well-being (White et al., 2017). However, this approach is relatively new in the UAE, and much still remains to be learned about the most successful way to implement and evaluate it. The course of PE implementation in the UAE is similar to the implementation of other approaches targeting student well-being across the globe, namely social-emotional learning (SEL). Much like PE, SEL is viewed as an umbrella construct that focuses on developing specific competencies related to emotional intelligence in children and adults that impact their well-being (Elias et al., 1997).
Based on decades of research on SEL implementation in schools in the United States, this paper offers research-based suggestions for strengthening PE implementation in the UAE. This study conducts a qualitative investigation of teacher, student, and educational leader perspectives on current PE implementation, with the aim of better understanding the pedagogical approach and offering recommendations for future implementation plans, with an eye toward long-term sustainability. This study’s results point to two major recommendations: (1) PE may be most successful if implemented from a systems-lens that ensures schools are hospitable and supportive of PE; and (2) PE curricula must be relevant to the local community, which highly values moral education centered on Islamic values. The implementation of PE is more important now than ever as Emiratis move forward from a global pandemic and look to furthering their well-being.
Recommended citation: Nelson Christensen, A., jules, t. d., & Mayworm, A. M. (2022). The State of Positive Education in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE (Policy Paper No. 56). Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research.