Citizenship and National Identity in International Schools in the UAE: A Case Study of Three American Schools in Dubai
Alaryani, Aysha Salmeen
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This thesis examines the national identity formation and citizenship development of Emirati students studying in three international high schools in Dubai using an American curriculum. The research questions look at the extent of national identity and citizenship integration in curriculum and activities of these international schools, the role of the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in promoting citizenship and national identity in multi-cultural international schools, and the perception of students, parents, teachers, school administrators and government officials on the role of international schools in promoting national identity and citizenship of Emirati students. The theoretical framework is a combination of three theories that include the important characteristics of the topic: Kymlicka’s (2001) liberal nationalism and cultural nationalism, Layder’s (2006) social and cultural agency theory, and Wells’ (1999) social-cultural learning theory. The literature review examines a number of fields relevant to this topic: conceptions of national identity, citizenship conceptions and education, cultural theories and intercultural learning, general organization cultural theory, cross-cultural literature, international education and internationalization of curriculum. The methodology is an interpretive qualitative study using semi-structured interviews, and document analysis. The results revealed that there is a lack of curriculum and activities integrating Emirati content. There is a general dissatisfaction among Emirati parents and some Emirati students. While some teachers expressed an interest and desire to integrate more Emirati content, the school administrators generally reported that a sufficient amount was being done, and the government agency officials have a different set of priorities. The conclusion chapter provides a number of recommendations for appropriately increasing the integration of UAE content while maintaining a strong international focus.