The spectacle of global tests in the Arabian Gulf: a comparison of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates

Auteur(s) : Morgan, Clara

Date: 2018

Pages: p. 285-308

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Although scholars have examined the effects of global tests on national and regional educational governance, few researchers have studied their impact on education in the Arabian Gulf. This research fills the knowledge gap by studying the international spectacle of PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS results in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – two small rich states at the periphery of knowledge production processes. The author argues that an analysis of these narratives reveals how global accountability discourses are translated into the Arabian Gulf context as truth claims that performance in league tables is an accurate and objective representation of educational quality. Four themes emerge from the analysis: integration of test results into national visions; measurement of educational progress based on test results; ranking of student performance; and policy changes to improve test results. In conclusion, the author suggests that the over-dependence on global tests in defining educational quality in Qatar and the UAE erodes educational sovereignty and restricts the capacity of small states to develop and nurture alternative, indigenous and localised solutions for guiding educational reforms.

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