School precautions
The private school education landscape in Dubai post-pandemic Image Credit:

The latest KHDA Private Education Landscape report states that 47% of pupils at Dubai private schools have opted for 100% distance learning as the mode of delivery for their education, with 53% of students doing blended learning (a combination of distance and face-to-face learning).

Although this suggests that many parents are still concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their children’s safety, confidence should be boosted by the fact that the KHDA also reports that its team makes daily visits to schools to ensure they're following Dubai Government health and safety guidance, including 1,148 surprise visits to schools by the KHDA team in September and October 2020. On these visits they found that the vast majority (88%) of schools were following all the rules and guidance.

The KHDA Private Education Landscape report is usually an annual publication but has taken on a different format to reflect the unprecedented situation due to the pandemic, and and updated version will be issued again in Winter 2020 and in Spring 2021. The current figures of distance-learning and blended learning were correct as of 1 November 2020, so it will be interesting to see how many parents change their minds about their child’s mode of schooling following the positive news about the COVID-19 vaccine research.

New school openings despite pandemic

While the impact of the pandemic has led to 4 private schools in Dubai either closing or merging, there have also been 6 openings of new schools despite the impact of COVID, including the first official Chinese school to be launched outside China. This makes a total of 210 private schools in Dubai now, a figure that has been growing rapidly in recent years, with 30 new schools having opened between 2017 and 2020.

There has been an increase in student enrollment rates in Dubai private schools by 14% during the past academic year, while the current school year (2020-2021) has seen a limited decline in enrollments of 1.7% compared to the last academic year, which shows the sector to be very resilient despite the difficult market conditions caused by COVID-19. 

Average school fees in Dubai cost Dh30,000

According to the report the average cost to send a child to private school in Dubai is Dh29,953 per year.

However, 50% of Dubai students pay less than Dh20,000 in annual tuition fees to go to a Dubai private school.

Although the KHDA ruled that there would be no discount on fees for those who chose distance learning when schools returned at the beginning of this academic year in September, some schools have chosen to reduce fees across the board in an effort to assist families struggling due to the pandemic, and in order to remain attractive to parents in an increasingly competitive school environment.

The report also states that the majority of students (106,773) study the UK curriculum, with 73,990 studying the Indian curriculum, followed in popularity by the US curriculum (44,571) and then IB (17,822).

Fun facts and trivia

The report also features some fun facts like that there are 14,949 students in Dubai private schools called Mohammed or Mohammed, and 3,076 girls named Mariam or Maryam, and that 25.9% of school students in Dubai private schools have Autumn birthdays.

There are 279,191 students at Dubai school all together, 32,398 of whom are Emirati, and there are 20,445 teachers working at private schools in Dubai.

The majority (29%) of school teachers hail from India, while 17.7% are from the UK, just under 10% are from Egypt and 5.1% are from the Philippines, with the rest divided between other nationalities from around the world.

The average age of a Dubai school teacher is 38, with the youngest being 20 and the oldest being 76.

The KHDA report is a little different to previous years due to the changes that have happened because of the pandemic, and its information will be constantly updated, with a refreshed version released in the winter and spring.

On the developments of the private school education sector in Dubai, His Excellency His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Al-Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai said: “The current changes in the general landscape of private schools in Dubai reflect the flexibility of the private school system in the emirate and its ability to adapt to the challenges created by the exceptional circumstances that have swept the whole world since the beginning of the year 2020, as existing or new private schools in Dubai have shown their eagerness to meet the needs of students and parents, whether in terms of providing a safe and healthy school environment for their students, or providing parents with various options according to their preferred educational model.”