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Education in Abu Dhabi

A rapid rise in population has necessitated a considerable investment in education. Today, the UAE offers a comprehensive education to all male and female students from kindergarten to university, with education for the country’s citizens being provided free at all levels. There is also an extensive private education sector, while several thousand students, of both sexes, pursue courses of higher education abroad at Government expense.

Much has been achieved since the early 1970s but efforts are now being made to improve the educational environment for all pupils, in line with a re-evaluation of the role of government. In particular, Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), is spearheading privatisation of the education sector in Abu Dhabi.

95% of all females and 80% of all males who are enrolled in the final year of secondary school apply for admission to a higher education institution in the UAE or study abroad. Nationals can attend government tertiary-level institutions free of charge, and a wide and rapidly increasing range of private institutions, many with international accreditation, supplement the public sector. The Al Ain-based United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) continues to be the country’s flagship national institution of higher education, whilst newer institutions such as Zayed University (ZU), which has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, were established in 1998 by the Federal Government to educate national women and prepare them to actively participate in society. The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), on the other hand, offer a more technically oriented education in 12 well-equipped colleges spread throughout the United Arab Emirates. HCT, in conjunction with its commercial arm, the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT), prides itself on responding quickly and effectively to current needs in the regional and international workplace.

Notable private institutions include the American Universities of Sharjah and Dubai, Sharjah University and the Ajman University of Science and Technology. Recent entrants to the educational marketplace include Abu Dhabi University, Al Hosn University in Abu Dhabi and an Abu Dhabi chapter of the Sorbonne. Dubai is also setting-up a 2.33-million-square-metre, multi-university complex, Dubai Knowledge Universities (DKU), in the heart of its ‘Academic City’. The UAE also has several vocational and technical educational centres for those seeking practical training in their chosen careers.

Indeed, now that the educational infrastructure is in place, the focus is on ensuring that the youth of the country are ready to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century workplace. In addition, to ensure that there are enough jobs for these emerging graduates, emiratisation of the workforce is being encouraged by the Government, especially in the private sector, where UAE nationals account for a very small percentage of the total workforce. Some progress has already been made in banking, insurance and human resources.

Primary school education is compulsory for all UAE citizens. Government policy is to provide staff/student ratios of 1:20 at kindergarten and primary levels; and 1:15 at intermediate and secondary levels. The existing staff/student ratios are well within this proposed range.




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