Abu Dhabi's National Identity Mark inspections show room for improvement at schools

Initiative assesses schools across the emirate on efforts to promote UAE cultural values

An Islamic class with Year 2 pupils at The British International School Abu Dhabi, one of the eight schools to be ranked as outstanding. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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The latest phase of school assessments into how well the cultural values of the Emirates are being promoted in classrooms did not include any new "outstanding" ratings.

Private schools in Abu Dhabi are inspected in batches as part of the National Identity Mark programme, with the most recent group indicating there was room for improvement when promoting the UAE's culture and values.

Under the National Identity Mark inspections, conducted by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge, 153 schools have been evaluated in the past two years.

Eight received an outstanding rating, 33 were rated good, 79 were rated acceptable and 33 were marked as weak.

The National Identity Mark, first announced in May last year, is an annual school rating system to measure efforts to integrate core Emirati values into studies.

The current evaluations of 66 private schools in Abu Dhabi were derived from assessments conducted in the 2023-2024 academic year, while last year's results from 87 schools were released in August. Another 60 schools will be inspected before the end of the current academic year.


Of 66 schools inspected, none were rated outstanding in 2024. Last year, eight schools received the top rating out of 87 institutions inspected.

“While we are disappointed that no school has attained an outstanding ranking in this latest phase of assessments, there appears to be renewed determination among schools to continually improve and utilise the framework to continue providing parents with a comprehensive overview of the schools’ national identity effectiveness,” said Dr Sara Al Suwaidi, education quality assurance and monitoring office director at Adek.

“We strongly encourage all schools, regardless of their intake of Emirati pupils, to continue developing national identity programmes that are integrated into the curricula by engaging the entire school community, including parents, to create an enriched learning environment that extends beyond the classroom.

“Our aim is to empower all parents to make informed decisions when choosing a school that not only excels academically but also enriches their child’s understanding of and connection to Emirati culture and values.”

Six schools evaluated during the first phase of inspections asked to be reassessed, resulting in Yasmina Private School jumping from a weak to a good rating. One school rose from acceptable to good, while another progressed from weak” to acceptable. Two schools retained their earlier ranking.

What criteria are schools being inspected on?

The National Identity Mark covers three domains – culture, values and citizenship.

The culture category covers history, heritage and the Arabic language.

The values section comprises respect, compassion, and global understanding. Citizenship takes in topics such as a sense of belonging, volunteering, and conservation.

The rankings are assessed separately by Adek’s Irtiqa’a Inspection, which covers the performance standards of private schools in Abu Dhabi and provides recommendations for improvements.

Which schools were ranked outstanding last year?

The top eight schools earning the outstanding rating last year were: The British International School Abu Dhabi; Sheikh Zayed Academy for Girls; Sheikh Zayed Academy for Boys; Emirates National Schools, Mohamed bin Zayed City; Al Ittihad National Private School, Khalifa City; Al Ittihad National Private School, Shakhbout City; Emirates National Schools, Branch 3; and Adnoc Schools, Sas Al Nakhl.

British International School Abu Dhabi has pupils enrolled from 96 countries, with one in five at the school being Emirati.

The school was one among eight private schools in the emirate that were rated outstanding for promoting national identity by the Adek last year.

Updated: May 22, 2024, 12:41 PM