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The UAE Private and Public School Sector Report (Assessment)


There has always been a globally recognized debate on the differences in education quality between private and public school institutions.

Majority of the relevant arguments have generally supported the idea that private education tends to produce better graduates in any education level be it elementary, high school or tertiary levels. Public schools are supported by the government while private institutions are owned and run by independent investors who may be individuals or organization.

In the UAE, there were 131 private schools during the year 2010. The literacy of UAE falls at 91 percent (Library of Congress, 2007). However, the distribution of private and public schools is quite different to that in other countries of the world such as the U.S.

According to our collected data the number of public institutions almost equals the number of private institutions. Public schooling is free for all enrolling students in the UAE. This has hence provided a leveled out system that maintains the literacy level of UAE residents at a reasonably high level.

Subject choice

The subject choice of this report is education and it will compare the business activities of public and private schools in the UAE. The main activities in this report involve comparison between private and public schools in the UAE.

In order to do an effective comparison between these two kinds of schools, the project centers its study on the following areas or aspects of schools, performance, gender based population distributions, mode of transport and nationality population. Such aspects will provide important information on accessibility of education in both the private and the public schools.

Also information on the rising demand of private schools and the reason they are preferred by foreign students. Through education the economy of the UAE is expected to grow much faster due to the effects of acquiring knowledge in developing new technologies and applying new work methods in various industries. The fruit of such advancements is the increase in income and living standards for UAE citizens.

Effects of education on the UAE economy

Education has a core contribution to the economic sustainability and prosperity of the UAE. It is the key determinant of increased productivity and growth in the economy of the UAE. Education is an important element in development of skills necessary in enhancement of modernization and growth in the country. The UAE is endowed with abundant natural resources; oil and gas.

In order to ensure improved technology in processing of oil related products, intensive training and education is needed. Such training also provides jobs to the citizens of the UAE. Education plays a key role in research and technology. Research and technology ensure that education provided matches the requirements of the job market.

Education is the key element in ensuring that the UAE emerges from the economic crisis facing the world today. The country seeks to play an active role in education in order to ensure an economy which is knowledge based. The reason is that, an educated person is able to turn risks and challenges into social and economic opportunities which are feasible.

All strategies and development plans of the UAE are influenced by education because it plays a vital role of removing all obstacles which hinder sustainable development and achievement of high rates of growth. With rapid increase in the country’s population, education is the key investment because this population provides human capital which is important in the UAE’s economy.

Comparisons between public and private school will impact the economy because it shall allow us to know how the different institutions affect the kind of education gained by students.

Understanding the weaknesses and strength of the entire education system will help in guiding proper planning methods when the government chooses to improve education facilities. The study will affect the economy also by showing contributions of gender and students of different nationalities towards sustainable development.

Methods of data collection

The data collected is both primary and secondary data. Primary data was collected through observation. The most employed technique of observation in this report is in-depth technique. Participative and non- participative technique was partly used.

In-depth interviews were carried out through a short questionnaire which had the questions on performance, gender, mode of transport and nationality of students was administered. These interviews were done face to face, computer assisted and through telephones.

The ones done through computer and telephone calls were directed to known persons like principals, head teachers or head of departments to give information on performance of students and gender population. Questionnaires were administered to students and were done face to face and provided information on all four key areas of study.

Surveys were employed too to observe the behavior of students, the mode of transport they preferred and the nationality percentage.. These methods were used to reduce errors that may occur as a result of using one method of collecting data.

Participative and non-participative methods of observation were partly used to observe some of the students’ behavior in order to make observations too, mostly on mode of transport and nationality aspects. Secondary data is usually collected and recorded by someone else.

This data was derived from records, books, logs and journals. Journals on leaders of the UAE on their plans of investing on education and importance of education to this provided secondary data. Such data was readily available on libraries and internet.

Data analysis

The data collected was in numerical form. Tally method was used to derive data from every questionnaire, call and survey. A table containing the four aspects of study had to be drawn (columns for performance, transport, gender and nationality and rows for private and public schools). Use of spreadsheet program in form Microsoft Excel was most appropriate in calculations of percentages as well as displaying the results.

It provided an appropriate means of summarizing the information collected. Graphs were used to display the results and gave an excellent choice. On x- axis was the independent variable, that public and private schools while on y- axis was the percentages for each (dependent variable). The data was in sets so different colours had to be used for labeling purposes. Also a legend has been provided in all graphs.

A number of schools were visited and examined such as the Australian School of Abu Dhabi and Al Iman schools. In total a sample size of 60 schools was achieved from which various variables were collected for parameters concerning transportation, gender distribution, nationalities and school fees.

Problems faced during data collection

Several challenges were faced during the collection of this data. Some of the techniques opted for were not successfully in sourcing the needed data. For instance not all students to whom questionnaires were sent responded. This diminished the sample size that had been selected at first.

Also, during the in depth interview phase of the project some of the targeted respondent were completely unavailable for discussion and hence were left out of the collected database. Although the team had arranged for direct meetings with certain school personnel such as headmasters, we were directed to assistance who would continue with the interview.

Some schools were however very resourceful in supplying us with relevant information such as the Al Manhal school whose students provided data on their school fees payments. Such figures were more difficult to extract from other schools’ students.

Insights and Explanations of Data Findings

Tuition price comparisons

As is shown in our comparison of two private schools in Table 1, the Australian School of Abu Dhabi and the International Community School, we see a major difference in fees charges to students. The highest fees charged to International Community School Students are AED 31308 while those of the Australian school of Abu Dhabi show a maximum fee charge of AED 43084.

The difference between the two private institutions’ fees is quite high (28 percent of the Australian School’s total fees) and this illustrates the market disparities in the private education sector in the UAE.

Despite the fact that the total fees for each student in the various respective grades in the Australian School of Abu Dhabi are greater than those at the International Community School, we still see a change when it comes to the correlation of book fees to grade level. In the TIC school, book fees appear to be higher for Grade 9 level students than Grade 10 students by approximately 500 AED.

This is not however not the case for the Australian School of Abu Dhabi where book fees correspond to grade level and total fees. This shows an imperfect market situation for private schools.

Total Price Comparision
Australia School TIC School
Grade Total Grade Total
KG 1 AED 21,325.00 KG 1 AED 14,725.00
KG 2 AED 21,325.00 KG 2 AED 16,568.00
G 1 AED 24,847.00 G 1 AED 19,723.00
G 2 AED 24,847.00 G 2 AED 19,608.00
G 3 AED 26,233.00 G 3 AED 20,318.00
G 4 AED 26,349.00 G 4 AED 20,642.00
G 5 AED 27,677.00 G 5 AED 21,132.00
G 6 AED 31,765.00 G 6 AED 21,576.00
G 7 AED 33,709.00 G 7 AED 22,973.00
G 8 AED 33,709.00 G 8 AED 23,615.00
G 9 AED 37,078.00 G 9 AED 24,323.00
G 10 AED 37,078.00 G 10 AED 25,796.00
G 11 AED 43,084.00 G 11 AED 28,672.00
G 12 AED 43,084.00 G 12 AED 31,308.00

Table 1

Chart 1 shows the complete distribution of tuition cost for all the private schools that were analyzed in the sample. The Canadian International School stands as the institution with the highest fees along with the British and American schools. This goes to show that foreign funded institutions have the highest fees rates in the private education sector. The least expensive private school is the Al Iman School which is owned by locals.

The curriculum in the Al Iman School is fully Arabic. This is not the case with the much more expensive foreign schools such as the British School which are based on their own foreign curriculums. This hence results in an educational gap that fails to allow students who graduate from these less expensive schools based completely on the Arabic curriculum to find better job opportunities.

These employment opportunities may specify requirements for students who have undergone British or American educational systems. The frequent entry of foreign investors will require that locals possess the internationally relevant education needed to fill positions in their firms. Studying strictly under the Arabic system may hence deter the students from benefiting from such opportunities.


In a categorical assessment of government schools against private schools, it is clear that there is a very strong link between nationality and school type (See Graph 1.) From our sample of 60 schools, we see that all 29 government schools enroll local students while all 31 private schools have a 100 percentage population of students of mixed nationality.

This kind of bias further demonstrates the effect of different curricula on the local population. Given that the language of instruction in all government schools is Arabic, it becomes clear that the progress the UAE educational system will make in positioning English as a widely used language by locals will come at a snail slow pace.

The neglect in teaching fluent communication in English to local students has made the skilled labor distribution favor foreigners more.


We note on Graph 2 that there are more gender based government schools than mixed schools. Only one mixed school was identified against the 11 boy schools and 17 girl schools in the public school sector. The private institutions were all mixed.

The higher number of girl schools followed from a move by the UAE government to avail more learning opportunities to the girl child in accordance to the UNDP’s Millennium Development goals to empower women (UNDP, 2011). This has worked well to increase literacy levels for local females.

Despite the fact that there is a favorable proportion of girl schools to boy schools, the creation of mixed schools has provided a better platform for interactions amongst the sexes for students in private schools. However, the limits that local Arab Culture imposes on interactions between youth of different genders may contribute to the gender based structure of the public education sector.


Other aspects of the education system in the UAE that are worth looking into in future research topics related to this one are the training levels and backgrounds of teachers in private and public schools. This may provide insights on the quality of education available and also the possibilities of adjusting the educational curriculum to include a more globalized focus that teaches more diverse languages and subjects.


We can conclude that the efforts that the government in steering higher availability of public education in the UAE has driven up literacy levels significantly. The structures of public schools however need some improvements in order to match the labour needs demanded by the many foreign companies in the country.

Since these foreign industries have a huge impact on the economy it will be important for the educational system to support it by preparing civilians to enter the skilled labour market that serves it.


Library of Congress – Federal Research Division (2007). Country Profile: United Arab Emirates, Retrieved from

UNDP (2011). Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women, Retrieved from Web


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Work Cited

"The UAE Private and Public School Sector." IvyPanda, 20 July 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/an-assessment-of-the-uae-private-and-public-school-sector-assessment/.

1. IvyPanda. "The UAE Private and Public School Sector." July 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/an-assessment-of-the-uae-private-and-public-school-sector-assessment/.


IvyPanda. "The UAE Private and Public School Sector." July 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/an-assessment-of-the-uae-private-and-public-school-sector-assessment/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "The UAE Private and Public School Sector." July 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/an-assessment-of-the-uae-private-and-public-school-sector-assessment/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'The UAE Private and Public School Sector'. 20 July.

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