UAE teachers welcome licensing scheme but say they are still awaiting instructions

A number of teachers and principles say they have yet to receive information from the Ministry of Education

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Educators have welcomed the first phase of the teachers licensing scheme that the Ministry of Education officially launched on Tuesday, but say they are still in the dark about specific details.

A number of teachers and principals working in MOE-curriculum private schools contacted said they have yet to receive specific instructions from the ministry detailing how to register their staff for the system.

“The problem is we don’t know any more information, it’s just headlines,” said a cluster manager of an MOE-curriculum school in Al Ain. “We don’t know, so I think we have to wait for a bit to understand it.”

The manager said teachers at her school had not received any recent communications from the ministry about the new tests that they will have to pass to be licensed. Others contacted for comment shared similar sentiments.

On Tuesday, the Minister of Education held a news conference to announce that about 5,100 public high school teachers have been invited to register for the license system this month. Public school teachers working in grades 10, 11 and 12 are being notified by an MOE email that prompts them to a website where they can enter their personal and professional details. These teachers will have to write a subject-knowledge exam in April and a professional-knowledge test in September. If they pass these two tests, they will earn their UAE teaching licenses, which will be valid for between one and three years, depending on their performance, experience and education.

The ministry said private school teachers working in MOE-curriculum high schools are also being invited to take part in this first phase of the licensing, but that they are still in the process of collecting data from schools.


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The scheme presented by the ministry was vastly different from pilot versions of the teacher licensing project proposed last year by Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge and the Knowledge of Human Development Authority in Dubai. Both Adek and KHDA have deferred all teacher licensing questions to the MOE, which has now taken the lead on the project.

“The process of obtaining the license is done by passing exams, which will be based on two tests, one specialised and the other is professional,” Minister Hussain Al Hammadi said. “The teacher will join a training programme, according to the results of the tests, aimed at qualifying him/her and developing his/her qualifications, according to what the teacher needs to reach the target outputs.”

The ministry also set up a website – – to answer frequently asked questions.

Judith Finnemore, a managing consultant in the education division of Focal Point Management in Al Ain, said the licensing of teachers is “excellent” for the profession.

“Currently, there is such a wide variety of qualifications from all over the globe,” said Ms Finnemore. “Western ones are perceived to be of greater worthiness than others and this creates a two-tier system that is not necessarily fair.”

While it will raise standards, the licensing will ultimately lead to demand to pay equity, she said.

“A teacher from England, one from Tanzania and another from Pakistan will have met identical standards so why should they be paid differently based on their nationality?” said Ms Finnemore.