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The Status of Teaching and Teacher Professional Satisfaction in the United Arab Emirates

This paper examines teacher satisfaction in the United Arab Emirates. First, it examines the overall level of professional satisfaction among teachers in Abu Dhabi using data from the OECD’s 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). It finds that there is a significant gap in overall teacher satisfaction that is driven by higher rates of satisfaction among expatriate teachers than Emirati teachers. It also finds that the perceived value of the teaching profession is a large and statistically significant predictor of teachers’ professional satisfaction. The second part of the paper investigates the reasons for this satisfaction gap further– it uses new survey data to explore attitudes towards teaching as a career among a cross-section of Emirati residents. It finds that while Emirati residents – nationals and non-nationals alike –generally consider teaching a good job, individuals’ perceptions of both status and salary affect attitudes towards teaching. While the first part of the paper finds that teachers’ perceptions of status affect their job satisfaction, the second part finds that salary is an even more significant predictor of whether Emirati residents believe teaching is a good job, and that there is a tight coupling between expected salary and perceived status. Policy recommendations suggest that attracting Emiratis – particularly male Emiratis – back into teaching would require both more pay and a significant status upgrade. Meanwhile, teaching remains a desirable profession for expatriate Arabs and Southeast Asians, as it provides comparably good pay and benefits.

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