April 03, 2014
Steady increase in the number of Emiratis in private schools
When it came time to enrol her son in school, Ayesha Al Janahi never even considered the free, public-school system available to citizens.
She readily joined a growing number of Emirati parents who choose private schools over government schools to educate their children.
вЂњI didnвЂ™t want my son to be involved in a government school,вЂќ said Ms Al Janahi, 30, who studied in both systems as a child. вЂњItвЂ™s not the same standard, you know?вЂќ
The number of Emiratis enrolled in DubaiвЂ™s 158 private schools rose by 3.2 per cent this year, and has more than doubled since 2001, according to figures from the Knowledge Human and Development Authority (KHDA).
The Dubai Private Education Landscape report, released yesterday, showed that nearly 31,000 Emiratis were enrolled in Dubai private schools in 2013-14 вЂ“ 17,276 boys and 13,718 girls.
Emiratis were the second-largest national group in the private-school system, accounting for 12.7 per cent of pupils, behind Indians with 34.5 per cent.
The main reason more Emiratis were choosing private schools was because of вЂњbetter teaching and learningвЂќ, according to a 2012 KHDA report.
вЂњTheir way of teaching is amazing,вЂќ Ms Al Janahi said of Uptown School, which her son attends.
вЂњItвЂ™s like they are more concerned about how they do things. They learn from doing, not from memorising, which is so good.вЂќ
International standardised test results show Ms Al JanahiвЂ™s view is not just a common perception, but has the facts to back it up.
вЂњEmirati students in Dubai private schools outperformed both Emiratis in public schools and pupils in other participating Arab countries in reading and mathematical and science literacy,вЂќ according to the report Emiratis in Dubai Education, published two years ago by the KHDA.
Parents also cited better English-language instruction, convenient location, better school leadership and superior extra-curricular activities as reasons for choosing private over public.
Michael Embley, the executive principal of Nord Anglia International School, which will open in the autumn, said many Emirati parents chose private schools for their curricula.
вЂњThey wanted the British curriculum, and often thatвЂ™s been for portability,вЂќ said Mr Embley. вЂњThey wanted access to UK or US universities.вЂќ
According to the 2012 report, 65 per cent of Emiratis in private schools attended American-curriculum schools, 15 per cent went to Ministry of Education schools and 15 per cent to British schools.
Nav Rai, business development officer at Repton School, said the fact Emiratis were increasingly choosing private schools was not indicative of any failure on the part of government schools.
вЂњIt simply reflects the fact that Emirati parents now have a wider choice of schooling options for their children, therefore it is natural they will explore alternatives to government schools,вЂќ he said.
Image credit: Gulf News
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