Assessing Sustainability in UAE Schools

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: Assessing Sustainability in UAE Schools
Stream: Primary & Secondary Education
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Sandra Knuteson, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Sana Sayed, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Marie-France Waxin, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates


In line with Goal 4 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Education has strived to implement a sustainability focus into its educational institutions for more than a decade. Sustainable schools bridge environmental education with community engagement, involve various stakeholders, and cultivate an environment of ongoing learning, growth, and development while using sustainable methods and infrastructure. However, there is a lack of research on sustainability implementation in schools across the UAE. Our research objectives are to examine the level of sustainability implementation in schools; the influence of school size, fee structure, profit system, and gender segregation on school sustainability implementation; and the main challenges and suggestions to implement sustainability successfully. This research adopts an exploratory qualitative and quantitative survey approach relying on sustainability-related staff’s perception of management, infrastructure, operations, curriculum practices, and the challenges faced. 89% of respondents reported that their schools include sustainability within the strategic objectives, but levels of school sustainability behavior varied. Fewer than 50% of respondents reported schools having certain management practices such as sustainability competencies in hiring and training. Over 60% of respondents reported schools having energy, water and waste practices and sustainability related courses. This exploratory research contributes to the literature on sustainable education in schools in general and in the UAE in particular. The results of this study will help better understand and overcome the challenges related to integrating sustainability so that the schools in the UAE can design and implement key strategies that foster sustainability.

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