Privately run preschools in Dubai may soon be regulated by the emirate's education authority.
Currently, the ministry of social affairs oversees the licensing of all preschools and nurseries in the emirate. Under an agreement between the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and the Dubai Economic Development Department, any preschool that follows an early childhood curriculum and hires professionals including teachers and therapists to care for young children will need to be licensed by the KHDA.
"The regular day care centre - those not offering an education service - will be classified as nurseries," said Mohammed Darwish, chief of the Regulation and Compliance Commission at KHDA. He was speaking yesterday on the first day of the Education Investment Mena conference, which runs until October 10.
"If centres provide education elements they will be classified as early learning centres and will be licensed by KHDA."
Nurseries will continue to be regulated by the Ministry of Social Affairs, but the exact criteria for differentiating between preschools and nurseries is yet to be finalised.
It is also unclear whether preschools will require licensing from both the KHDA and ministry of social affairs.
"The early learning sector has the biggest opportunity for investment and growth" said Dr Abdulla Al Karam, director general of the KHDA.
"The demand is driven by the large number of young parents coming to Dubai. There is also an increased awareness about its benefits."
He said they were encouraging investment in the area but had to be cautious about unscrupulous operators.
"We are making regulations clear and transparent so that investors see this as an opportunity to provide their services," he said.
"But we also have to develop strict entry policies and inspection mechanisms to add value for the parents."