Emirati parents increasingly shunning gov't schools

Education authority report shows more Emirati parents enrolling children in private system
SCHOOL FEES: Education charges were the highest riser in Dubai in the first half of the year. (Getty Images)
By Courtney Trenwith
Thu 16 May 2013 12:52 PM

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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