Schools vow to sustain momentum of anti-bullying week
The momentum created by the National Bullying Prevention Week, which ended on Saturday, will be carried through the academic year, schools said.
The campaign, organised by the Ministry of Education, saw ministers, educators, counsellors, students and parents speak out at schools nationwide.
Last year, 27 per cent of 15-year-olds in the UAE said they were bullied “at least a few times a month”, an international student well-being report said.
On Saturday, the ministry, in collaboration with the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, concluded the weeklong campaign against bullying. Throughout the month, the ministry had hosted workshops training educators in recognising signs of bullying, helping victims, and understanding new phenomenon such as cyber bullying.
The ministry also organised a Youth Circle that saw the participation of 40 students at Dubai Secondary School, as part of the Bullying Prevention Week. The Youth Circle was organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Affairs. It was attended by Jameela Salem Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, and Dr Amna Al Shamsi, assistant undersecretary of the activities sector at the Ministry of Education.
Al Shamsi said: “This is the first time the ministry hosted youth circles in schools to get a better perspective on what students experience and how they feel about certain subjects, such as bullying. It’s an opportunity for us to hear what they have to say within a safe environment that has their best interest in mind. We are proud of the students who have had the courage to stand up and share their stories with us today and hearing about their experiences in schools reiterates the importance of what we are trying to achieve throughout our campaign.”
On Saturday, schools said their efforts had been boosted by the newly introduced Moral Education curriculum, which teaches values such as respecting differences.
Neil Matthews, associate principal at GEMS Wellington Academy in Al Khail, Dubai, said: “Student well-being is promoted throughout the curriculum in terms of our PSHE [Personal, Social, Health Education] and Moral Education curriculums.”
Matthews added that in support of the week, students identified ‘Anti-Bullying Champions’ to promote friendship, among other initiatives. The school also rolled out ‘worry boxes’ that enable students to share their concerns without talking directly to an adult in the first instance.
Sonia Mahajan, principal of North American International School in Al Mizhar, said through Moral Education and other school programmes, the school maintains the focus on its two main “core values of respect and empathy” over the academic year. “We have some 36 nationalities represented at our school. We respect each other’s difference and we talk about it in class, in assemblies — respecting the individual for who he or she is. We have programmes ongoing for the whole year,” she added.
Mahajan said for the week, the school hosted TED Talks on bullying during which students and parents shared their experiences. There were also plays and other initiatives for the primary and kindergarten sections.