Education in the United Arab Emirates

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Provision of quality education in the United Arab Emirates began shortly after the establishment of the federation with the inception of the first university in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates University. Since then, the country has progressed with efforts of ensuring high literacy rates, modern programs and women’s share in education. The UAE currently devotes approximately 25 percent of total federal government spending to education. The overall literacy rate is 90%.[1]

Basic education[edit]

Public education is free for male and female citizen children through the university level. Beginning in the academic year 2006–7, expatriate students may, for a fee, attend government schools. The UAE has one of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios (28:1) in the world. Education is compulsory through the ninth grade, although, according to the United States Department of Education, this requirement is not enforced. Primary school enrollment for males in 2006 stood at 85% and 82% of females. 97% of entrants reached the 5th grade.[2] Secondary school enrollment figures remained lower at 62% for males although higher for females at 66%.[2] In 2004–5 approximately 9.9 percent of students in grades one through five and 8.3 percent of students in grades six through nine did not complete their education; this rate rose to 9.3 percent in grades 10–12.[1] According to the CIA World Factbook, total literacy under 15 years in 2003 reached 77.9%[3] Between the ages of 15-24, males reached 98% literacy and women 96%.[4]

In 2005, the United Nations Programme on Governance in the Arab Region rated the UAE a .79 on its Education Index. The Programme defines the Index as, “One of the three indices on which the human development index is build. It is based on the adult literacy rate and the combined gross enrolment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools. Regionally, the countries scoring higher included the Occupied Palestinian Territories at .89; Libya, Lebanon and Kuwait at .87; Jordan and Bahrain at .86; and Saudi Arabia at .80. All of the countries ranked in the index reported a significantly higher number of phones per population than internet users, with the UAE claiming one hundred twenty eight versus twenty-nine. Internationally, the country with the highest rating was Australia with a .99 while Burkina Faso stood lowest at .27.[5]

Despite not being among the highest rated on the Education Index, the UAE has made regionally significant achievements in ensuring women’s access to education. UNDP’s Millennium Development Goal No. 3, to “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women” has reached its targeted levels of female participation in primary education and continues to increase.[6] (See Women in the United Arab Emirates)

Development program[edit]

The Ministry of Education has adopted “Education 2020,” a series of five-year plans designed to introduce advanced education techniques, improve innovative skills, and focus more on the self-learning abilities of students. As part of this program, an enhanced curriculum for mathematics and integrated science was introduced at first-grade level for the 2003–4 academic year in all government schools.

Recognizing a constant need for progress, the UAE has sought to implement and monitor high quality education standards by undertaking new policies, programs and initiatives. Throughout the Middle East, educational advancement is often impeded by insufficient focus on the English language, inadequate provision of technology as well as modern techniques of instruction and methodology. Stressing the importance of “modern curricula with assorted and non-monotonous means of training and evaluation”,[7] the Emirates launched ambitious campaigns to develop each of these areas. At its foundation, lies the necessary funding, which in 2009 was earmarked at 7.4 billion dirhams ($2 billion), as well as increased teacher training.[8] Through its Teachers of the 21st Century and a two hundred million dirham share of this budget, the UAE hopes to train 10,000 public school teachers within the next five years,[9] while also pursuing its scheduled goal of reaching 90% Emiratisation of its staff by 2020.[10]

In addition, the UAE government believes that a poor grasp of English is one of the main employment barriers for UAE nationals; as a first remedial step, the Abu Dhabi Education Council has developed the New School Model, a critical-thinking oriented curriculum modeled on that of New South Wales. This program was unveiled in September, 2010. In February 2006, the prime minister directed the education minister to take initial steps toward improving the quality of education, including the provision of permanent classrooms, computer laboratories, and modern facilities. In April 2007, however, in a major policy speech to the nation, the UAE vice president and prime minister stated that despite the steady increase in the education budget over the previous 20 years, teaching methods and curricula were obsolete, and the education system as a whole was weak. He demanded that the ministers of education and higher education work to find innovative and comprehensive solutions.[1]

In early 2008, the UAE’s Ministry of Education launched a Mentoring Programme which assigns Western principals to 50 of 735 public schools across the UAE in an effort to modernize instructional strategies and implement Western methods of learning. Participating instructors emphasize necessity of deviating from the traditional methods of passive memorization and rote learning instead of encouraging active student participation.[11]

Higher education[edit]

At the, 4 November 2013 ( level, numerous institutions are available to the student body. In 1976, the United Arab Emirates University (UAE) was established in Al Ain in Abu Dhabi. Consisting of nine colleges, it is considered by the UAE government to be the leading teaching and research institution in the country. More than 14,000 students were enrolled at UAE in the first semester of the academic year 2006–7.

In 1983, Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies (EIBFS) was established to provide world class education in the area of banking and financial studies. The Institute is doing a pioneering work in the area of banking and financial studies education to provide skilled manpower to the UAE banks and financial institutions. The Institution has two campuses at Sharjah and Abu Dhabi and third state of the art campus is coming up at Dubai. The Institute is currently offering Higher Banking Diploma Program, Islamic Banking Diploma Program, etc. and host of training programmes in the area of Banking and Insurance.

In 1988 the first four Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) were opened. In the academic year 2005–6, 12 campuses offered more than 75 programs, with a combined enrollment of 15,000 men and women. The commercial arm of the HCT, the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training, is allied with multinational companies to provide training courses and professional development. In 1998 Zayed University was opened for women with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. A new US$100.7 million campus in Dubai opened in 2006.[1]

While the American University in the Emirates opened in 2006 offering a number of unique programs in GCC region, American University in Dubai opened its doors in 1995 to join the successful ranks of its much older regional counterparts in Cairo and Beirut, more recently, several international universities enjoying a presence in the Emirates include Tufts University and George Mason University in Ras Al Khaimah; Michigan State University and Rochester Institute of Technology in Dubai. New York University (NYU) is set to open alongside the Sorbonne in Abu Dhabi in the fall of 2010. After a distinguished seven hundred year history, in 2006 the UAE became home to Sorbonne’s first campus abroad. Although its focus is largely on the arts and humanities, Emirati students attending international universities locally, commonly concentrate on business, science, engineering and computers programs. For the first time in the UAE the first medical school Gulf Medical University was set to open in 1998 for both genders of all nationalities. Formerly known as Gulf Medical College. In 2008 it expanded its campus and programs to include dentistry, pharmacy and other programs in association with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Gulf Medical University is based in the Emirate of Ajman.

In 2003 Dubai established a dedicated education zone, Dubai Knowledge Village, based at Dubai Internet City. The 1 km long campus brings together globally recognized international universities, training centers, e-learning, and research and development companies in one location. As of early 2007, it had attracted 16 international university partners, which include Saint-Petersburg State, University of Engineering and Economics, University of Wollongong, Mahatma Gandhi University, and the Manchester Business School.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research is the government ministry concerned with higher education. The Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA), a department in the Ministry, licenses institutions and accredits degree programmes. bnk

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d United Arab Emirates country profile. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (July 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b UNICEF Country Statistics for the UAE, 2006
  3. ^ CIA World Factbook: UAE, 2009
  4. ^ UNICEF Country Statistics for the UAE, 2006 Between the ages of 15-24, males reached 98% literacy and women 96%.
  5. ^ http://United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Arab States, Programme on Governance in the Arab Region (POGAR) Education Index 2005
  6. ^ UNDP Millennium Development Goals United Arab Emirates Report, March 2007; pg. 14
  7. ^ AME Info, January 2008
  8. ^ Arabian November 2008;
  9. ^ UAE Ministry of Education, September 2008;
  10. ^
  11. ^ UAE Ministry of Education official site, February 2008;

External links[edit]