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Young student. Photo for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: A child must be aged between 45 days and six years to be admitted to an early childhood centre (ECC) in Dubai as part of new guidelines announced by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) on Tuesday.

The minimum admission age of 45 days is for the Early Learning Stage while the maximum age of six years is for KG2 (Year 1).

More than 200 nurseries and early childhood centres, including 15 new centres that opened in 2021, currently cater to children from 45 days old up to six years of age in Dubai.

Teacher qualifications

The new guidelines, issued to support investors in Dubai’s early childhood education and care sector, also state the expected qualifications of teachers at ECCs.

For example, teachers of children aged 36 to 71 months, are “expected to have or be working towards a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education (preferable)… or professional certification in early childhood education…”

Staff-to-child ratios have also been set, ranging from 1:3 for the 45 days to 17 months age group, to 1:12 for the 48 to 71 months group.

Safety cover

Moreover, the guidelines cover safety aspects, such as the outside space at ECCs, which must:

• be shaded to protect children from the natural elements whilst allowing

access as often as possible;

• have well maintained flooring, free from trips and hazards;

• be free from hazards (e.g., large containers that collect water, manholes

and pest control devices should be covered; storage sheds must be locked

when not in use); and

• conform to relevant health and safety protocols.

‘High expections’

Mohammed Darwish, CEO of Permits and Compliance at KHDA, said: “The benefits of high-quality education and care are well-documented, both to children’s development and to society as a whole. We have high expectations of Dubai’s early years education sector, and this guide gives operators the information they need to offer high-quality provision. We plan on working closely with our partners in this sector to ensure that children are able to learn and thrive in an environment that puts their wellbeing at heart.”

In line with Dubai Government directives, the process to open or expand an early education centre “has been streamlined, with reduced documentation requirements and faster processing times”, KHDA said.

More guidelines:

• New centres need to have dedicated education and care plans and have a clear governance structure in place

• All staff employed must have suitable attributes, qualifications, knowledge and experience for their role

• Staff caring for children aged 45 days to 35 months should have expertise in baby and toddler care and development

The full guide is available on the KHDA website’s publication page.