Emirati parents increasingly shunning gov't schools

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Emirati parents in Dubai are increasingly shunning government schools and enrolling their children in the private system, which mostly offers international curriculums, a government education authority report shows.

The number of Emirati students in Dubai’s private schools has doubled in the past 10 years to 30,044, according to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.

Now, more than half (56.6 percent) of all Emirati students in Dubai attend private schools, compared to 34 percent in 2001.

The number has grown at an average annual growth rate of 6.2 percent and Emirati students now make up 13.4 percent of all private school students in Dubai.

“This growth has stemmed from an overall increase in the number of school-age Emirati children in Dubai, plus a growing trend for Emiratis to prefer private schools over public schools,” the KHDA report says.

About half of them (16,000) attend schools that operate under the UAE Ministry of Education (MoE) curriculum, while the other half are learning international curriculums, mostly from the UK and the US.

Enrolments at MoE private schools fell 2 percent this academic year.

The largest private education provider in Dubai, GEMS, which operates schools with the MoE, UK and US curriculums, told Arabian Business it had experienced increasing interest and enrolments among Emiratis who wanted their children to be educated at an international level.

“Both American and English national curriculum schools across the UAE are recording increasing student admissions of Emirati nationals,” a spokesman said.

“From discussions with Emirati parents we understand the increasing uptake to be driven by two main factors - a more personalised recruitment strategy to welcome Emirati students into GEMS schools and Emirati parents are increasingly seeking schools that offer a curriculum where academic standards and attainment are benchmarked against international norms, alongside a holistic approach to developing the skills and abilities unique to each child.

“Parents are also seeking schools that respect and promote the national identity alongside the language, cultural and religion of the host  country.  GEMS schools celebrates diversity and the positive engagement that Emirati students contribute to the culture and ethos of international schools.”

Emirati parents appear to favour sending sons to private schools, with boys accounting for 57 percent of all Emirati students in private schools, according to the KHDA report.

Meanwhile, there are only 24 Emirati teachers in private schools out of a total 14,333 across the system.

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Posted by: Billy

I hope the influx of Emirati children into the private system does not prompt the government to start forcing these schools to change their curriculum or dress code or any other rules to the detriment of the majority of pupils that attend. It must be remembered that the reason the Emirati parents have taken this choice is that the schools as they exist today offer a better education for their children. If the government want to offer more in depth Islamic studies, or lessons in Arabic or indeed any other items that they feel will preserve their culture then they should drastically improve their own government schools NOT dumb down the far better teaching curriculum in private schools that is obviously the curriculum of choice for many Emiratis now.

Posted by: Dave

I remember few years back in a Country, a "rule" was implemented stating that no student would be allowed to give GCSEs until they finished Year 11, even though Year 10 was standard for GCSEs and Year 12 A Levels. The reason was that many of their own students, who were a minority in the private schools, were failing GCSEs after Year 10.

Posted by: abdul hafeez Sheikh

The emirate future citizens want to be educated in international schools and the government schools are lacking behind proper International standards facilities . More the freedom in education better are the reuksts of future UAE citizens

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