Nurseries over nannies: Early-learning enrolment on the rise in Dubai

More than 23,500 children have been enrolled at city's nurseries in the past 12 months, up by 3,000 year on year

A growing number of parents in Dubai say they want their young children educated in nurseries to provide them with better learning opportunities. Photo: Canadian Kids Nursery
Powered by automated translation

Parents in Dubai are increasingly choosing to send their children to nurseries rather than hiring nannies to take care of them at home, the latest data has found.

More than 23,500 children have been enrolled in the city's nurseries, up by 3,000 on this time last year.

It comes as 27 new nurseries opened their doors in the emirate in the past 12 months, bringing the total number of early childhood centres in the city to nearly 250.

The latest figures, published by Dubai's Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) this week, showed a 15 per cent increase in the number of children enrolled, after a 12 per cent enrolment growth was recorded by Dubai's private schools earlier in the academic year.

"Early childhood centres are not only about today's children, they are about tomorrow's innovators and changemakers," said Dr Abdulla Al Karam, director general of KHDA, in a statement.

Parents want to put their children in nurseries for them to have a community and to socialise with other children
Faten El Hajj, owner and director of Canadian Kids Nursery in Business Bay

"The enrolment growth we have seen in the past year is a clear indication of the effort centres have made to improve quality and of the trust that parents have placed in early childhood centres to provide children with rich learning experiences."

Faten El Hajj, owner and director of Canadian Kids Nursery in Business Bay, said many parents do not trust leaving their children with nannies at home.

"They want to put them in a place where there is high supervision, as well as trained people who have approvals from authorities in Dubai," she said.

"Also, the children benefit from coming to the nursery. Parents want to put their children in the nursery for them to have a community and to socialise with other children."

Ms El Hajj said the benefits of enrolling children at early-learning centres include enabling them to learn, develop self-esteem and gain more social and emotional skills.

She said financial reasons were another factor, because nurseries are cheaper than hiring a nanny full-time, with salary and visa costs piling up.

Ms El Hajj, who opened her nursery in 2013, said she had seen higher demand in the past year, with enquiries pouring in.

"I am in a business area where we have a lot of companies and commercial and business towers, so of course the demand is high," she said.

Sarka Hadermayerova, a 45-year-old mother working in luxury lighting, sent her daughter, one, to Canadian Kids Nursery.

She said she opted against hiring a full-time nanny for safety reasons, as well as wanting her daughter to be around only family when at home.

"It's very good for the child's personality to meet more people, not only the children. I think they learn to respect authority," said Ms Hadermayerova, who is originally from the Czech Republic.

"Also, educationally it's better for the children because nannies only care for the baby, give them food and make sure they don't fail. But there is no added value to that."

Rather than relying on traditional approaches, children are more exposed to more ways of learning from trained people, she said.

In Dubai, parents can choose from a number of centres offering 14 curriculums and learning approaches, with Arabic, English, French, Spanish or Russian, among others, as the main language of instruction.

The majority of children enrolled – 66 per cent – are between two and four years old. Nearly 80 per cent of children attend nursery five days a week.

While some parents might be concerned over their children being exposed to illness at nurseries, Ms Hadermayerova said she has no such worries.

"It's best for the baby's immunity if they face some viruses," she said.

"They are increasing their immunity by meeting other people and other children."

Updated: January 04, 2024, 3:00 AM