Building human capital is crucial to a knowledge-based society and economy. And so education is one of the main sectors that the UAE is investing in by building public schools as well as hosting many private institutions.
In Abu Dhabi, as the expectations on schools are increasing, Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) is working on expanding schooling options to provide educational opportunities for all children.
As The National reports today, the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi has signed into law far-reaching measures to regulate private schools in the emirate. The regulations will be applied gradually over the next three academic years and will cover all aspects of private schooling, including fee structure, school infrastructure and curriculum. In total, there are 87 articles to the new law.
The private education sector has witnessed an annual growth rate of 5 per cent in recent years, as many new schools open in the capital. Today, there are more than 180 private schools in Abu Dhabi offering a variety of curricula, catering, in total, for two-thirds of the school children in the emirate, or approximately 200,000 children.
All these schools follow federal bylaws that have been in place for more than five years. But the absence of clear updated regulations has been causing some confusion among educators and operators in the private sector.
Adec's new regulations will also cover issues related to child health and safety, and hold school principals accountable for abuse cases. This would place more responsibility on schools to protect children's mental and physical health and prevent any kind of bullying or verbal abuse from both teachers and among students - the sort of pernicious abuse that often can go unnoticed.
Stricter regulations on curricula will also benefit parents and students, who will know exactly what they are getting, rather than the "pick and mix" curricula some schools now offer. This newspaper reported last year that in Dubai, 21 of the 30 American schools were not accredited by a US educational body. Closer monitoring in the capital will prevent such a situation developing.
Abu Dhabi is aiming to develop a world-class education system. By introducing clear rules and regulations, the emirate can move another step towards that goal.