Dubai: Schools following the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum in Dubai are facing the highest demand, with enrolments growing by 66 per cent. This has forced authorities to put greater focus on these schools.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) on Tuesday announced signing of an agreement with IB officials that will focus on joint assessment of IB curriculum schools as well as steps to cater to the growing demand.

As part of the partnership, IB representatives will accompany Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) inspectors during their visits to IB schools. They will ensure that DSIB inspectors are kept up-to-date with IB curriculum developments as well as assure schools that inspection judgments are accurate.

The partnership will also aim to increase the number of schools offering the IB curriculum. IB officials will support KHDA with operators planning to open IB schools in Dubai as well as provide them with strategic advice on setting up or expanding IB schools.

As part of the agreement and in support of the UAE Vision 2021, the authorities will also conduct joint research to assess the IB programme’s impact on Emirati students’ level of participation in civic engagement, taking into account activities such as volunteering and general community involvement.

Where IB curriculum is available

Six schools provide the full IB curriculum in Dubai, while others offer an IB programme for specific grade levels. With a combined enrolment of more than 5,000 students, the IB curriculum is one of 13 offered by Dubai’s private schools.

Students from IB curriculum schools were found to have the highest proficiency among Dubai’s private school students in mathematics, reading and science in the 2009 international benchmarking exam Programme for International Assessment (PISA), scoring 30 points above the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of 500.

Speaking about the agreement, Dr Abdullah Al Karam, director general and chairman of the board of directors at KHDA, said: “This partnership is a key part of our commitment to support the growth of high quality education in Dubai. By providing potential operators with strategic advice about managing IB schools, we will be able to deliver world-class education to a greater number of students.”

He added that the research component of this partnership is critical in measuring and instigating Emirati students’ active participation in society so that they become fully engaged international citizens of tomorrow.

“IB offers a challenging curriculum that produces engaged, discerning graduates ready to contribute to the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 and UAE Vision 2021,” he added.

Strategic partnerships

Commenting on the agreement, director general of IB Jeffrey Beard said: “IB is very pleased to be entering into this agreement which is part of our plan to develop strategic partnerships and associations in different regions of the world. A closer collaboration with KHDA will support the offer of an IB education, making it accessible to more students. The research agenda will help us to further solidify and confirm IB programme efficacy in ensuring success in life-long learning through higher education and employability.”

The signing ceremony was attended by IB and KHDA officials as well as principals of schools following IB curriculum, including Uptown School, Dubai International Academy, GEMS World Academy, Jumeira Baccalaureate School, Greenfield Community School, Dar Al Marefa, Emirates International Meadows and Jumeirah, and a senior academic director from Taaleem.