Dubai: The UAE’s 41st National Day marks a year of many achievements for the region’s private education sector.
In Dubai, 88 per cent of all education takes place in the private sector while 58 per cent of Emirati parents, who have the option of sending their children to government schools, choose private instead.
Dr Abdullah Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and the Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) told Gulf News that the achievements and initiatives in the last year have raised the standard of education.
“We are proud of Dubai’s private schools for improving the quality of education they offer their students,” he said. “In the last academic year, the number of students attending schools rated as good or outstanding has tripled, and we are keen to see this increase in the year to come.”
He continued: “Five new schools have opened this year, educating a further 5,300 students. The higher education sector in Dubai’s free zones continues to grow. The quality and breadth of programmes offered by our international branch campuses attracted more than 17,000 students in 2011-2012, a figure set to increase in the coming year.”
A key development earlier this year came when 500 principals and teachers from Dubai’s private schools attended the flagship event, ‘What Works’, held in Dubai in September.
After the summit, they agreed that by sharing the best of what is happening in schools every day, all private schools, and all students, will benefit. Due to the positive feedback received from the event, and the number of school partnerships formed, KHDA is now looking to the future by putting together a number of What Works companion events, namely What Works Maths, What Works Science, What Works Literacy, What Works Leadership and What Works Higher Ed.
Another step forward for KHDA came in September when they signed a strategic partnership agreement with International Baccalaureate (IB) to support the growth of Dubai schools.
As part of this partnership, IB representatives will accompany Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) assessors during their annual visits to IB schools.
They will ensure that DSIB inspectors are kept up-to-date with the latest IB curriculum developments, as well as assure schools that inspection judgements are accurate.
The partnership also aims to increase the number of schools offering the IB curriculum.
KHDA also introduced an iPhone app to help parents access inspection results and choose a school for their children.
The application contains a host of useful details such as curriculum details, student breakdowns, school contacts, inspection grades and the school fees structure.
The free app is available to download from Apple’s App Store and will be updated regularly.
Meanwhile, in May 2012, KHDA announced an agreement with the British government’s Department for Education (DfE)to deliver British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspections in cooperation with the Centre for British Teachers (CfBT) Education Trust.
BSO inspections enable parents, the school and other stakeholders to see how the school performs against the standards that apply to independent schools in the UK, taking into account local requirements.
Parents who enrol their children in UK curriculum schools in Dubai will be assured that the quality of education offered by the school is similar to that of independent schools in the UK.
KHDA was established by decree in 2006, under the directive of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Responsible for the growth, direction and quality of private education and learning in Dubai, from early childhood to adult learning, its aim is to develop education in the emirate to the level of international standards.
Looking to KHDA’s year ahead in education provision and monitoring, Dr Karam said: “We look forward to working with schools, universities, parents, teachers and students in the next year so that together, we can all improve the quality of education in Dubai.”
— Noor Nazzal is an intern with Gulf News.