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Wed 28 Oct 2009 07:33 AM

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UAE private schools set for talks on shake-up move

Minister of education confirms nationalisation plan for private education.

The UAE's education chief has hinted that there are plans to nationalise private schools in the country.

Minister of Education Humaid Mohammed Al Qatami confirmed the move while answering questions at the second ordinary session of Federal National Council's fourth season on Tuesday.

He asserted the ministry's intention to restructure and regulate the ministry's division in charge of private education, news agency WAM reported.

Qatami said that there was a vision to nationalise private schools, adding that he would raise the issue during a meeting to be held with the heads of private schools next month. No further details were given.

There are currently 474 private schools in the UAE, where nearly half a million students seek education.

These schools follow different curricula but are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, WAM reported.

Qatami also answered questions about the ministry's policy regarding the teaching of English in primary schools.

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UK 10 years ago

The news is still not clear, but I understand, it refers to nationalization of all schools in UAE. Ministry/KHDA just do not have credentials to attempt some thing of this sort. They should just stop playing with future of children. Many of schools run here belong to very eminent educational groups and have extensive experience in running good educational institutions. Instead of trying to boss over, the ministry must learn from them and try to become a regulator rather than owner. These may be harsh words, but I definitely seriously concerned as it relates to children's future.

Clevatreva 10 years ago

The question I have is WHY? One can guess that the reason behind this is the fact that more local children are being sent into private education rather than entering the public education system. OK, there is some mediocrity in the private sector, but there are also some extremely successful private schools here with very high standards. Shouldn’t the MoE be focusing on some of the well documented problems in the public sector schools first before going down this route?

NR 10 years ago

If MOE can manage the school with the same or better standards than private edcuation providers then this is a good move. We have seen some of the major education providers (not all) were flexing their muscles when it comes to increasing the fees. Some found a way to increase transportation fees by outsourcing it. In all these cases MOE couldnt intervene and solve the grievances of the parents while this looting was happening. But the question here is whether MOE will be able to provide better quality education, also the American/UK/Indian cirriculum.

Concerned Parent 10 years ago

One head teacher of a very distinguished Dubai secondary school already has resigned this week citing interference by the Ministry in the way in which private schools are run and the fact that he knew that it was only to become worse. He has resigned as a matter of principle and not wanting to be head of a school in which the standards of the education provided to the children of that school would suffer and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Private schools and State schools happily co-exist in the country I am from (England) as they do in most other countries I can think of. The Ministry's job should be as a regulator and ensurer of standards and should not be to interfere in the running of schools and the curriculum of those schools to the detriment of the children attending those schools. How can a UAE Ministry judge an English curriculum school, let alone taking over the running of it? I am a long term resident of this country. My children have been born here and consider it to be their home. As a parent I have chosen to have them live here and to be educated in English curriculum private schools in Dubai, rather than send them to boarding schools in the UK. Should this nationalisation madness come to fruition, I (and I am sure many other parents) will have to re-think whether my children should continue their education here. I am not prepared to jeopardise my children's futures because some uninformed bureaucrat thinks he knows better than the parents of children attending these private schools. I should add that I have never previously added a comment to any of the Arabian Business articles, but this has me incensed!

YousefA 10 years ago

Like Rashid School for boys and Latifa School for Girls. Students from these school have gone on to study at Cambridge and Oxford. I know of one emirati student from these school that went to Imperial College London and another that went to Kings College. These are top universities not just in London and the UK but around the world. If the system is not working, how come students from these schools are studying A levels and going to study at top universities? If you want to include more Arabic, find a way to but in all honesty the system works better than most people make it out to be.

Concerned Parent 10 years ago

Whatever is done the outcome has to be to the benefit of the children, be they UAE nationals, GCC nationals or other expatirates. The different people have differing requirements for education that are linked to their future education and their plans for adulthood. Is the standard of Arabic teaching in Dubai good or bad? Not being a Arab my personal opinion is that it is not good and can certainly be improved - as can the education of all nationalities with regards Islamic culture. However, for may children their first priorities will inevitably be elsewhere and if the apparent intentions of the KHDA come to fruition then the likelihood will be an outcome that is not to the benefit or a large number of children. If there are short comings in one area of education then this is the area where the curiculum needs to be improvded - it does not mean that wholesale changes are necessary. Finally the success of any school depends primarily on the staff, pupils and parents NOT on external bodies. All these bodies can do is provide guidance and measurement. If the KHDA continues with what seems to be their plans the success of the schools in Dubai on average will fall - because the KHDA cannot deliver success in education. They need to form an alliance with the schools and agree what is appropriate and practical to deliver and then ask the schools to do so. Nationalisation is not the answer!

Very Very Concerned 10 years ago

If it is going to stop some of the education providers from taking decisions that seriously affect my childrens education the I am all for it. Obviously all schools could not follow the Arabic Curiculum, that just would not work. I have just been to a secondary school meeting at Gems Royal Dubai School, believing as all the parents their did that we were meeting our childrens teachers - alas that was not the case, instead we were informed that GEMS corporate office had decided to close the secondary school!!! My child is in year 10, a term into the most important 2 years of his education (GCSE years), now he will have to move to another school where he will probably have to make different GCSE choices and suffer as he will already be behind. Not forgetting the freinds he has made and the relationships that he has built up with his teachers! I am sure that if the school was controlled by the government that this would not have happened. It is a real shame that Mr Varkey has lost sight of the reason that his parents started GEMS - that is to build a trurly caring educational system that put its pupils first!

nick 10 years ago

I moved down here because I was impressed by the standards of the schools , especially Dubai college. Now the headmaster of that school has quit because of too much government interference . There is not one single british parent down here who does not question whether their kids are getting as good an education in Dubai as they would be in UK.Any more of this sort of talk will make that decision for us.What price Ranches villas then ? By the way I wish my kids were learning arabic properly , but english and maths do come first as I want them to go to university.

Billy 10 years ago

My my how naive you are Very Very Concerned. Varkeys are all the same and always have been - profits first education last. The school was closed down as it was not profitable probably due to inferior standards of management and education. Moving your kids to a non Gems school will be the best thing you could ever do for your kids. Government control of all private schools on the basis of saving a second rate Gems school would be the worst thing for your kids. State schooling in Dubai has been recognised by the government themselves as not being good enough so why on earth would it make sense to nationalise all the much better private schools and bring them down to the low standards of state schools? If you thought income tax would cause a mass exodus of expats just watch what happens if this ridiculous suggestion actually happens.

Sand Piper 10 years ago

When I first read this I dismissed it out of hand as an unworkable nonesense. However having read it again, I am becomming slightly concerned, primarily because it is the Minister of Education himself who has revealed "a vision to nationalise private schools". Surely the Minister himself would not have said such a dramatic thing unless it was true. But why ? There is no logic in doing this, no commercial benefit to the Government. The only motive I can think of is for the Ministry to have control over the curriculum, but this is not an opressive country where the leaders would dictate doctrine, and they can make regulations rather than the drastic measure of nationalising the schools, so I cant believe that this is their motive. The only other thing I can think of is that there is a mistake in translation, and that by nationalization they actually mean an introduction of a class on National Heritage or something similar, but to forcefully take ownership of private institutions would send a shock through the region, and seems totally out of charachter. I look foreword to some clarification.