UAE 50: A commitment to education

How the UAE became an international hub of learning

Sheikh Zayed, the founding father of the UAE was keenly aware of the role education had to play, “The greatest use that can be made of wealth is to invest it in creating generations of educated and trained people”.

Innovation, progress, and inventiveness has always remained core to the Emirates success story and education has been at that heart of all three.

Prior to 1971, education in the Emirates was predominantly an informal affair with a local mutawa or teacher, providing training in the reading of sacred texts and calligraphy.

With the founding of the UAE there was an increased focus on providing all nationals with an education; primary and secondary school education was universally introduced for Emirati boys and girls, raising literacy rates and preparing a new Emirati nation to compete in a globalised world.

An influx of expats led to the early foundations of the UAE’s international schools with informal educational groups transforming into many of the UAE’s first expat schools.

Now the UAE boasts a well-regulated education system with over 1,600 schools, educating more than a million students.

It is the only country in the world to offer a choice of 18 different global curriculums, taught in different languages and delivered at different price points, and it is proud to share that it has a youth literacy rate of 99.5 per cent, one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

UAE education is at the forefront of innovation, student wellbeing and inclusion.

New initiatives are being launched all the time under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and local education authorities such as ADEK and KHDA, always with the aim of raising standards and opening up opportunities to prepare UAE students to compete in the global marketplace.

More recent developments have seen some of the world ’s most highly regarded universities set up programmes in the UAE, drawing in talent from across the region and beyond to study here.

Students in the UAE can now receive a top class education from nursery school all the way through to post graduate level at educational establishments that are recognised well beyond the UAE borders.

Sheikh Zayed is quoted as saying, “The real asset of any advanced nation is its people, especially the educated ones, and the prosperity and success of the people are measured by the standard of their education.”

As the UAE’s 50th year slowly comes to an end against the backdrop of EXPO 2020, the founding fathers’ mission to create a progressive, inventive, and original nation-state has come to fruition.
The commitment to education has ensured that the propensity to learn, change and grow has remained central to the ethos of the United ‘Global’ Emirates.

Fiona Mckenzie is an Education Consultant with Carfax Education and helps to place children from all over the world into UAE schools.


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Abu Dhabi, UAE


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