Stigma in the Classroom: an investigation into the area of Stigmatized Students at Private Schools in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Despite years of reform efforts in the field of education concerning the development of learning environment according to the international standards, as claimed by Dr. Haneef ((Minister of the UAE’s Ministry of Education) at a conference which was held in May 2006, academic under-achievement associated with stigmatization in minority groups of students remains a challenge for the public and private schools in 4 the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The present study explored stigma phenomenon in the classrooms at six private schools in two emirates in the UAE. The researcher investigated such phenomenon, its reasons and whether certain factors like gender play a role in the labelling process as well as its effects on students’ lives and education. She also explored the possibility of a relation between having a learning difficulty and being stigmatized. The study relied on qualitative methods such as interviews, observations, gathering documentary evidence and one quantitative method like questionnaires. Analysis of data revealed that certain groups of students are stigmatized due to both their under-achievement level and behavioural problems. On analysis, it was also found that boys are more likely to be stigmatized than girls in the classroom. The results indicated that the main stigma reasons are due to undiagnosed learning difficulty, family domestic troubles and/or behavioural challenges. To meet the needs of such students and improve the academic services which are provided for them, a set of various recommendations were suggested for future practices.
stigmatized students, private school, United Arab Emirates (UAE), academic achievement, under-achievement