The Major Changes in Education and Schools in


TheMajor Changes in Education and Schools inUAEin the Last 10 Years

Inthe last ten years, the government of the UAE, under the Ministry ofEducation (MoE) has committed to improving education standards in allpublic schools in order to prepare students for better education,with proficiency in English, Arabic and committed to the nation’sheritage.The education program aims at preparing the students whograduate from the government schools to secure entry into theuniversities across the world. Initially, the policy makers adoptededucational concepts and practices borrowed from the west withoutconsidering the cultural differences. Also, focus has been given tochanging the instructional approaches from the teacher-centered tothe student centered approaches. However, the United Nations notesthat the change has been slow because of the budgetary constraint(United Nations, 2000). This paper examines the major educationchanges, in terms of school environment and teacher professionalism,that have taken place in the last ten years.

Educationand Schools in UAE

TheUAE started experiencing massive growth in 1980s after the discoveryof oil reserves. The government aimed at investing its wealth in away that could benefit the entire population, through education,social welfare and health. The government relied heavily on importedlabor and expertise. Education structures and systems were borrowedfrom foreign countries and curricula were adopted from Kuwait andEgypt. Progress was made, but still there were a lot of criticismsover the education system in the early 2000s. Reform programs werelaunched in 2006. Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) began aggressivereform policies with ambitious plans to reform the education system(Dickson, 2012).

TheMajor Reforms

PublicPrivate Partnership (PPP)

Theintroduction of PPP allowed the invitation of foreign consultancycompanies to bid for tenders to offer advisory services to schools.The projects was first enrolled in 2006 in primary schools before itwas carried over to lower secondary in 2007 and then to secondaryschools in 2008. Each cycle took three years. The main duty for theadvisers was the improvement of pedagogy and encouragement of thebest instructional approaches such as student-centered methods oflearning. Before then, the schools were dominated a common methodwhich has been usually teacher-centered. After the onset of PPP, anew set of curriculum, adopted from the South Wales curriculum inAustralia, was introduced and the advisers trained the local teachersin its implementation (Tabari, 2014).

TheNew School Model (NSM)

NSMis a new learning approach that was introduced in 2010 in order toaddress the challenges that education in public schools and try tobring a change in terms of education delivery. This was part of theADEC school reorganizing program. NSM was the vehicle for theachievement of high educational quality because students in bothprivate and public schools were performing below internationalstandards. This program was introduced in 2010 in Grade 1-3 andenrolled to the rest thereafter. The key facets for NSM included achild-centered learning environment that would be enhanced by supportfrom family, community and teachers. The curriculum, resources andpedagogy were standardized across all ADEC schools. It also includedthe development of English and Arabic language abilities, importationof national and cultural identity and development of criticalthinking skills (Tabari, 2014).


Inattempts to improve the teaching of education content delivery inMath, English and Science, ADEC sought from English Medium Teachers(EMTs) from the foreign countries, to replace the generalist Arabicteachers. Several non-Emirati citizens who were teaching in theprevious twenty years were laid off and replaced by the EMTs, whowere mainly from Canada, New Zealand, UK, USA and Australia. Later in2011, the ADEC hired one thousand more METs from the same countries.Further, The Emiratization program saw more one thousand four hundredteachers lose jobs because of lack of teaching certification. Thispointed the greatest government schools’ teacher layoff in thehistory of the UAE (Dickson, 2012).

TeacherAppraisal System

Previously,the appraisal system comprised of bi-annual visit by the officersfrom the MoE. They could be accompanied by the principal sometimes.Their areas of interest included lesson supervision and the teachers’involvement in extra-curricular activities. The changes introducedthe position of the Academic Vice-Principal. They are school basedand ensure a continual compliance to teaching standards and theirappraisal is based on classroom performance, teaching portfolios andevidence for learning assessment. In addition, ADEC has mobileinspection agencies who visit the schools to observe the lessondelivery (Dickson, 2012).

InternationalMontessori United Nations Model

InternationalMontessori United Nations model was launched in 2003 but it is untilearly 2014 that the program has found its way in UAE schools. This isthe first program certified by United Nations targeting elementarystudents. The program is rooted in the philosophy of MariaMontessori, an Italian educator, of confronting the real life issuesthrough practical challenges. This model takes a form of a conferencewhere children are allowed to represent given countries, as theydebate on life touching issues around the world. The children areimparted with democracy, current issues and international relations.A similar program, the Model United Nations (MUN) program takes placeevery year and targets the high schools in the entire region. Underthis program, teachers are trained first so that they can help thestudents to lead a UN model conference (Tabari, 2014).


Theteaching loads and school lengths changed between 2007 and 2012. In2007, the school ran from 7.15 AM to 1.15 PM and the lesson loadswere 35 lessons. The current school length is from 7.15 AM to 2.15PM. Arabic was the medium for teaching Math and science and the twowere taught together in Grade 1-3 by both the non-Emirati expatriatesand Emirati citizens. Currently, English is medium is used inteaching math and science and the subjects are taught by specialistEMTs. The teacher development programs were inadequate. There wasonly one workshop or a lecture in one semester that was organized bythe MoE. In 2010, the private company or ADEC advisors were stationedon-the-site to offer advisory services to teachers. Currently, theycarry out professional advisory on a weekly basis and the heads offaculty are given adequate training and the mandate to offer advisoryservices at the school level (Dickson, 2012).


TheUAE has realized a complete phase in the change of the schoolenvironment and the teaching profession as a whole. The strength ofthe country’s systems depends on the success of the educationsystem, thus, the first step to reforming a country is to reform theeducation system. As a result of the changes introduced, UAE willsoon realize the benefits of better education system. The change isexpected to improve literacy levels, improve grade performance inschools, and make education more relevant by linking educationcontent to the industrial practice. The teaching profession has nowbecome a serious engagement with high standards of educationalrequirements before certification.


Dickson,M. (2012). Wide-Scale Educational Reform In Abu Dhabi, United ArabEmirates: What Do The Teacher Training Students Think? Journalof Teacher Education and Educators,1 (2): 203-228.

Tabari,R. (2014). EducationReform in the UAE: An Investigation of Teachers’ Views of Changeand Factors Impeding Reforms in Ras Al Khaimah Schools.Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research. pp.7-9.

UnitedNations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, WorldEducation Forum. (2000). TheEducation for All 2000 Assessment: Country Reports. (United Arab Emirates, Part III: Prospects).Retrieved from,&lt 28, 2014