The number of international schools in Dubai is expected to double in the next decade to meet a soaring demand for British education in the emirate, a new report has said.
Dubai, which has more than quadrupled the number of international facilities since 2001, has seen a surge in Emirati families sending their children to schools with a UK curriculum, the report by UK-based ISC Research firm said.
International schools in the Gulf are quickly transforming from not-for-profit establishments attended by mainly expatriate students, to money-making institutions which appeal to locals.
ISC says demand for the schools, which continues to outstrip supply despite a school-building frenzy, has been boosted by a new, forward-looking approach to education in the region.
“Parents of the next generation are looking towards international schools to satisfy the need for critical thinking rather than learning by rote,” said Clive Pierrepont of Taaleem, which manages thirteen schools in the UAE.
“The parents clearly see international schools as a route through for university opportunities and that’s what’s fuelling the local demand for childhood education.”
Education has become a top priority for the Dubai government in recent years, as pressure mounts to develop the social and educational infrastructure needed to support future population growth.
In May, scores of schools and education councils came under scrutiny for operating out-dated facilities and allowing poor teaching standards.
According to the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, which inspected 136 private facilities between October and April, half the schools offered an “acceptable” education, with only a small proportion ranked good or outstanding.
In addition to building more primary and secondary schools, the government has also tried to enhance higher education by setting up Free Zones such as Dubai Knowledge Village.
Since their establishment, the Free Zones have attracted a wave of international higher educational institutions to provide high quality degrees, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said.
In its most recent report on the landscape of higher education in the emirate, KHDA recorded a 2 percent increase in university students in October 2010 compared with 2009, and a 10 percent increase in the number of Emirati students studying in Dubai.
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