Evolution of Education in UAE: A Timeline

Albert Einstein pointed out that “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of minds to think”. Recently UAE has come a long way from rustic schools with minimal infrastructure to technologically advanced smart board classrooms.

History in Education:

Although the UAE was born in the year 1971, after seeing the drastic change in their education system, it is surprising how far they have come. They developed local education and made free-for-all Emiratis.

They deemed earlier education as legitimate within this cultural text. But now they have embraced the importance of public education to stabilize religious and cultural norms.  

The older generation tries to convince them that their method of learning is easy but commuting was very difficult. Yes, there are changes in the younger generation in commuting but the technology has made them more challenging and effective in creative thinking.

Challenges in Education:

The education system is comparatively new. In the 1960s and 1970s, a school building program expanded the education system. Now education has become universal at the primary and secondary levels.

There are various stages of Education in the UAE:

· Kindergarten–4 to 5 years

· Primary Education–6 to 12 years  

· Preparatory Education–12 to 15 years

· Secondary Education–15 to 18 years

· Technical Secondary School–12 to 18 years

· Tertiary Education–Non-University Level

Pre-primary and Primary Education

Emirati families are prone to be large. Emirati women normally stay at home to take care of their younger children or provide childcare for their young relatives. Childcare facilities are unusual and demand for them is unassuming. Hence, females make up only 13 percent of UAE citizens in the workforce. But it changed over time and separate schools for girls are common now.

The number of private schools increased to 398 in the year 1998-1999 and boys and girls increased by 19 percent.

They ranked UAE forty-fifth in the United Nations Human Development Index for the year 2000, based on income, educational standards, life expectancy, and health care. They assessed this index out of 174 countries worldwide.

Through years, student, teacher, staff, and school numbers have thrived in the private educational sector. This included the addition of growth in public schools. Also, the number of private schools increased to 398 in the year 1998-1999 and boys and girls increased by 19 percent. Along the way, teaching staff also increased to cater to the needs of students, with a ratio of 1:17.

In research conducted, the experts found that a huge minority of students are the sons and daughters of non-native residents working in the UAE  in the public-school structure. Also, the percentage of UAE native students has grown in government schools was 66.6 percent in the year 1998-1999, in contrast to 33.7 percent for emigrant students. The surprising fact was that girls increased by 3 percent, while the figure was 2.6 percent for boys.

Education for 2020 generation

The Ministry of Education has named “Education 2021” wherein it focuses on a series of three- years plan to launch, enhance and accept educational techniques, development in innovative skills, and a distinct self-learning facility. Previously, it has enhanced the curriculum for mathematics and integrated science for first grade from the year 2003 in all government schools.

It has set education standards for undertaking new policies, programs, and initiatives. The UAE government believes because of the poor grasp of English, it becomes a barrier to employment for its nationals globally.

In 2007, the Government demanded the Minister of Education and higher education work jointly to determine innovative and comprehensive solutions. In 2008, UAE’s Ministry of Education started a mentoring program that assigns Western Theory to about 50 of 735 public schools all-over the country. They believed that this will streamline instructional policies and execute Western techniques of learning in developing the students to learn English.

The Ministry of Education has named “Education 2021” wherein it focuses on a series of three- years plan to launch, enhance and accept educational techniques, development in innovative skills, and a distinct self-learning facility.

So, the first remedial step, in September 2010, Abu Dhabi Education Council has established a new school model with abstract-thinking and aligned curriculum pattern on that of New South Wales.

Over the years, the Government has continued to launch initiatives benefiting students. At the World Government Summit in 2017, when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, launched a free educational platform for 50 million students around the Arab world, he said, “Priority is Education, second priority is education, and third priority is education.” He then added that “Providing high-quality education in science and math to all Arab students is integral to rebooting our civilized development; E-learning is the fastest way to bridge an educational gap in the Arab world.”

Growth in the private school sector

The private school sector in the UAE has increased the drive in the education market to 2020. They expect a requirement of over 175,000 additional seats in the K-12 segment for the next three years, and they believe that 90 percent of this will come mainly from private school enrolment.

Another serious challenge faced in the education sector is the continuation of Arabic education in private schools. They found emigrant students qualified from schools without fluency in the language, although Arabic is the fifth most frequently spoken language in the world.

Another huge role played by the education sector is the impact technology has had on teaching and monitor learning in how teachers and students access, analyze, present, and transmit information. According to experts, this has led to standardizing access to knowledge and information but allowed teachers to change instructions and cater to the discrete requirements of their students.

Lately, classroom installation was started with labs in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) in UAE schools. In the future, there is a proposal that classrooms will be a fusion of both traditional teaching ethics and values with modern technology learning tools and delivery methods.  

In recent years, the country has advanced the efforts of high literacy rates, modern technology, and women’s share in education. UAE currently devotes 25 percent of total federal government spending to education, that’s why they set an agenda for 2021.

To conclude, the UAE has shown drastic improvement in education. In the future, it has ideas like distributing learning spaces, personalized learning pathways, access to mentors and real-world learning, great emphasis on project-based learning, less focus on content and more focus on subsequent assurance in English and 21-century schools, substantial opportunities to solve problems in real-world, teachers as mentors and facilitators, emphasis on cross-curricular learning and greater use of online teaching apps and online coaching programs.

I, Priya Nagarajan, is a past Assistant Professor, mentor, tutor, counselor. Writing has always been a passion of mine and so changed my path to my passion. I believe language is the best way to convey your thoughts and dreams to get the results. I believe it takes a personal approach to reach individual success. I write with a flair for creativity and a keen eye for the professional.

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