More schools means more monitoring

A UAE-wide monitoring body for private schools will help improve the overall quality of education

School standards are a difficult issue in the UAE given the many different curricula followed. Al Marzooqi/ The National.
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The UAE offers a large variety and number of educational choices for students from around the world, with curricula in private schools tailored to the requirements of many different nationalities. While this creates choices, and helps ease the transition for the expatriate families who come here, it also creates a problem for the authorities in ensuring consistent standards across very different systems of schooling.

As The National wrote yesterday, a report has found that the UAE has the largest number of international schools in the world, with 439 schools generating US$2.5 billion (Dh9.2bn) a year in fees – 7 per cent of the world tuition-fee income. The number of schools is expected to rise further as the demand increases, especially in Dubai, which has the highest concentration of international schools. This will place more pressure on education authorities to oversee the quality of the private-school system.

One solution to this might be to create a national body to provide the Government and the wider public with a detailed view of the quality of school education across the diverse curricula. This would allow the authorities to regularly revise education practices and set their development plans, and it would help reassure parents that their children are getting a world-class education.

In Dubai, the school inspection bureau of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority carries out a comprehensive annual assessment of performance for every private school. The Abu Dhabi Education Council’s Irtiqaa programme was launched in 2012 to play the same role across the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The opportunity exists for them to work closer together to provide an overall picture of the quality of teaching in the country.

A new national body could have standardised inspection tools and a grading system covering all schools in all emirates. This would create a more competitive environment among schools, raising the bar across the board and ensuring that the standard in the UAE is second to none.