Enrolment surges by 9,000 in one year at Dubai's Indian private schools

Principal says classrooms are full after influx of pupils during pandemic

Pupils at the Gems Modern Academy, which received an outstanding rating in the latest inspection results. Photo: Supplied
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The number of pupils attending Indian private schools in Dubai has increased by nearly 9,000 since the previous academic year, official figures show.

Enrolment stands at 94,499, up from 85,588 in the 2022-23 academic year.

The school population surge was revealed as Dubai's private education regulator announced the results of the latest Indian school inspections on Thursday.

One Indian-curriculum school was rated outstanding, 10 were rated very good, 14 were deemed good and seven were marked as acceptable, in the rankings issued by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority showed.

Gems Modern Academy is the only one of the schools to receive an outstanding score consistently since 2011.

"During the pandemic, in schools like ours, which are good value for money, suddenly there was a huge influx of enrolment," said Rashmi Nandkeolyar, principal at Delhi Private School Dubai.

"Because we had online classes, we could accommodate a few more pupils. Now we are at full capacity and we don't have a single spot.

"Lots of people are moving to Dubai as it is a very safe place and budget schools like ours are doing very well. Those are definitely going to be sought after.

"I can also see that there are new schools coming up. They're coming up because they see a market for themselves."

In October, authorities said the overall private school pupil population in Dubai surged by a record 39,000 in one year.

Official statistics at the time showed more than 365,000 pupils were enrolled in the emirate, up from 326,000 in November 2022.

The KHDA said the 12 per cent rise in enrolment was the biggest since it was established in 2007.

The latest data shows 83 per cent of pupils attend Indian-curriculum schools rated good or better, up from 73 per cent recorded during the 2022-2023 academic year.

Four schools improved from acceptable to good and no schools declined in their ratings, the inspection results showed. No schools in the city were rated weak overall but Woodlem Park School was rated weak for inclusion.

Delhi Private School and The Millennium School were the only schools that ranked outstanding for well-being, while Gems Modern Academy was rated outstanding for inclusion.

“Dubai has ambitious targets for the growth of its economy and population and high-quality education will be central to achieving these targets," KHDA director general Dr Abdulla Al Karam said.

"Our vision is to transform Dubai into a global destination for education and this starts with every school and every classroom. We are grateful to Dubai’s Indian-curriculum schools for their support and for being part of a school community that reflects the innovation and excellence that exemplifies Dubai.”

Well-being became a key focus of school inspections last year, when 29 Indian-curriculum schools received good or improved rankings in the field.

“As Dubai’s private schools sector has grown, so has the access to high quality education for families," said Fatma Belrehif, chief executive of the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau.

"This is indicated by the 83 per cent of students in Indian-curriculum schools rated good or better this year, compared to 45 per cent when inspections first started in 2009-10.

"We remain focused on increasing the proportion of students receiving good and better education each year."

The inspection reports were published before the end of the second term, to help parents to decide on the best school for their children, Ms Belrehif said.

Updated: November 30, 2023, 10:35 AM