x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Education in the national interest

Whether they are from Ireland or India, most of the expatriates who come to work in the UAE do so to make a better life for their families. They are less likely to come here, however, if their children don¿t have the opportunity to pursue a proper education.

Whether they are from Ireland or India, most of the expatriates who come to work in the UAE do so to make a better life for their families. They are less likely to come here, however, if their children don't have the opportunity to pursue a proper education.

Investments in education are usually considered investments in the future. For the UAE, the equation is a bit different. The majority of pupils educated in the UAE will not live or work here when their schooling is completed. That is not a reason to spend less on them. Through its efforts to maintain a quality standard of education the Government is investing in the labour that makes its present growth possible.

That more than 4,000 pupils at five Indian and Pakistani schools in Dubai are not receiving an acceptable standard of education, as we reported yesterday, is reason for national concern. According to the latest report by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, only three of these schools made improvements since last year.

There are proven solutions to the dearth of affordable and quality school placements. Businesses, which have benefited from the UAE's tax-free environment, should understand their obligation but also self-interests in supporting education. For the Indian and Pakistani communities in particular, where the shortage of quality placements appears most severe, Indian- and Pakistai-owned businesses have a role to play.

Companies like Aldar have built their own schools, realising that it is to their advantage to have enough quality school placements for their employees. Another solution is to encourage more firms to follow suit.

The Government has a role to play as well, by bolstering private contributions with more cash for school construction, equipment, and higher teachers salaries. Pouring money into schools for the children of expatriate workers might run counter to convention, but for a nation that is dependent on foreign workers, it has certain merits.

The local business community and the Government have clear self-interests in subsidising school construction and improved instruction. This shared interest must be realised and acted upon without delay.