Education in the United Arab Emirates

Higher education in the United Arab Emirates began shortly after the establishment of the federation with the creation of the first Al Ain University in Abu Dhabi. Since then, the country has moved forward with efforts to ensure a high literacy rate, modern curricula and a decent share of women in education.

The UAE's drive to educate

Innovative education plans

The UAE’s government has adopted a series of three-year plans aimed at introducing advanced educational techniques, improve capacity for innovation, and focus more on students’ self-learning abilities. The main focus of this programme centered on public school first graders

Modern education standards

Recognizing a constant need for progress, the UAE has sought to put in place and check high quality education standards by pursuing new policies, innovative programmes and modern global exam systems with diverse means of training and evaluation thus developing a modern and advanced education foundation.

Women’s education

Despite not being among the highest scorers on the education index, the U. A. E. has made significant achievements at a regional level when it comes to ensuring women’s access to education. The country has met its targeted levels of female participation in primary education, a number that continues to expand.

Education in the UAE and Higher Education internationalization

In many respects, the United Arab Emirates seems to be a textbook case of higher education globalization in the Gulf countries. The three most visible aspects of this trend are the presence of international academic institutions, a high proportion of foreign students in local universities and the participation of a substantial teaching body from abroad.

The young federation has indeed moved beyond the stage of internationalization, i.e. the integration of an international dimension in academic teaching, research and administration. The U.A.E. joined the World Trade Organization in the nineties and accepted the principles of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (G.A.T.S.), which allows the unrestricted opening of the educational sector to foreign competition.

UAE's aid to education

In the United Arab Emirates, international aid policies are run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. UAE financial aid contributes to international efforts to achieve the SDO 4 (Sustainable Development Objective) with a strong focus on girls’ education. Investments are guided by the UAE External Aid Policy and are based on three fundamental principles:

  • Empowerment and protection of women
  • Transport and urban infrastructure
  • Technical cooperation

It should be mentioned that the UAE takes part in the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The country’s official development assistance has reached $4.6 billion (1.31 per cent of gross national income). U.A.E. aid major recipients are the Comoros, Mexico, the Philippines, Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The key to success has been negotiating with foreign education partners

The university revolution shaking up the Gulf States needs to be looked at from the perspective of the UAE original context. The present situation does not happen only because of foreign intervention and the state’s efforts to establish a coherent academic strategy. The federal structure of the State allows the local emirates to negotiate individually with their foreign partners. In this case, mostly Anglo-Saxon academic institutions.

UAE's education growth is the result of various components

While transnational issues such as massification and commodification of higher education are affecting the United Arab Emirates as well. Some result may come from the dissimilarity of scales at various levels, and in particular between the dissimilarity of the U.A.E and its neighbors Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah and their foreign partners.

Vocational and special education

The United Arab Emirates has vocational education centres such as the Higher College of Technology Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT) that offers vocational programmes. Furthermore, the UAE has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It has created a partnership with the New England Center for Children in Massachusetts, which specializes in helping children with autism.

Promoting literacy among young people in the United Arab Emirates

A major long-term goal of the Emirati authorities is to encourage young people to read. To do so, initiatives are being taken to encourage children to develop good reading habits. For the past 10 years, many local writers have written children’s books in Arabic. The ministry’s main objective is to fill a gap, as most of the creative children’s books in the UAE were written in English or taught in the country’s international schools after having been poorly translated into Arabic.