If pupils are to maximse their potential at school, they need the full support of their parents, according to Rabaa Al Sumaiti, author of the study, ‘Parental Involvement in the Education of their Children in Dubai’. “Students with parents who are involved in their school tend to have fewer behavioural problems and better academic performance,” she noted in the study. Parents should play a role not only in the promotion of their own child’s achievements but in school improvement and school governance, she said. However, statistics show reliance on domestic help and private tutors is alarmingly high in Dubai. Article continues below “The incidence of private tutoring in Dubai is high, with 51 per cent of students undertaking out-of-school lessons in at least one subject at the age of 15, a rate significantly higher than the international OECD average of 28 per cent.” “Due to the multicultural setting of Dubai, and especially since many families rely on maids and nannies from mostly south-east Asia, parents need to closely observe the impact of caretakers on their children’s acquisition of language and on their emotional and behavioural development.” The drawbacks of relying on domestic help are three-fold, said Al Sumaiti. “Infants and young children could spend most of their time in the care of housemaids [between 30 to 70 hours per week], which is not only longer than most institutional childcare hours in the US or Europe, but is also considered harmful to a child’s maternal attachment which might cause behavioural problems.” Secondly, most housemaids are non-Arabic speaking, and many are weak in English and have little training in child-rearing. Also, as a nanny ends her contractual arrangement, often after a two-year contract, this can create emotional tension in the child’s upbringing, according to the study. The role parents see for themselves vary in the degree to which they feel confident about being able to help, she said, adding that parents can at times be put off from involvement by the way teachers treat them or because they feel they lack the skills to make a difference in the success of their child. With younger children, direct help with school-relevant skills is appropriate and foundational, unlike with older students who require activities that promote independence.