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Topics & Pillars

Effectiveness of Education Reforms
What works, what doesn’t and what does the future hold?

Paradigm Shift in UAE Education
The employment environment is changing. How can education ensure it follows suit?

Innovation and Technology
Teaching and learning outcomes have benefited greatly, but as technology evolves, can we keep up?

Capacity Building through Education
Youth need knowledge and opportunity to flourish. How do they achieve this?

Bridging the Skills Gap
Identifying the gaps. Delivering skills enhancement. Creating a roadmap to success.

Description of Concurrent Topics

The concurrent sessions at the UAE Public Policy forum will have research papers addressing four key areas in the discourse about education.

  1. Development of Public Private Partnerships

On a global scale, education is regarded as a vehicle for economic, political, and social development. The value of education is amplified in developing countries because it provides pathways and opportunities for citizens to be lifted out of poverty and become fully participating members in societies and in the global market place. Funding for education has historically been considered a responsibility of the public sector and many countries have laws that make education compulsory. The high demand for education has transformed it from being a public good in many places to being a saleable commodity. The Private sector has seen the thriving opportunity in getting involved in building schools and offering alternatives to public education and it seems to be an ever-increasing portfolio.In the UAE, which is branded as” the most developed education market in the region”, the government has set up a model of public private partnership for the delivery of education to a high standard. The federal budget allocation for education was 20.5% for 2016-17, which amounts to Dhs25.2 billion (UEAcabinet.ae, 2016). According to a study conducted by Price Water House (PwC) (2017), Dubai will require 50 new schools K-12 by 2020 and Abu Dhabi will require 53. The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) reported in 2015 that private schools in Abu Dhabi earned close to Dhs3 billion in profit over the preceding four years. Investment in private schools in Abu Dhabi between 2010 and 2015 reached Dhs2.3 billion between 2010-2015

There are numerous benefits to a country to have privately funded and publicly regulated education provisions. Some obvious benefits are :

  1. Increased access to good quality education for a larger sector of the population.
  2. Increased innovation in the infrastructure and facilities offered in schools that are privately funded.
  3. There is increased symbiosis in the relationship between the public and private sector
  4. Countries benefit from a higher standard and quality of education when it is offered as a commodity.
  5. The war on price for good education adds healthy competition to the sector.

On the other hand, the drawbacks of the PPP model for funding the development of education often link back to issues of:

  1. Possible alternative motives in government contract being awarded to specific private developers.
  2. Increased commodification of education switching the focus from providing a public service to a private good, which can be bought.
  3. Increased socio economic segregation between those who can afford private education and those who cannot.


  1. Celebrating Innovation in Education

The United Arab Emirates has identified innovation as a critical component in advancing its social and economic aspirations for its people. Consequently, innovation is the cornerstone of the UAE national Agenda 2021. The definition offered by the UAE Cabinet for innovation states that it is “the aspiration of individuals, private institutions and governments to achieve development by generating creative ideas and introducing new products, services and operations that improve the overall quality of life. Innovation is key to promoting economic growth, increasing competitiveness and providing new job opportunities. (2016)

One of the four pillars of innovation as identified by the UAE national Innovation Strategy is Human Capital development. The purpose of education in the UAE if based on the theory of human capital development and therefore there is an alignment between the countries innovation vision and the role of education. The leaders of the UAE firmly believe that by encouraging innovation in all sectors, that can fundamentally recreate the way business and commerce is done to make it more sustainable and beneficial. In 2015, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, has launched the “Dubai Innovation Partners” initiative to encourage local and international collaboration on innovation. This initiative aimed to build strategic partnership and cooperation global industry pioneers. Partnership in the education Industry have emerged between many of the international universities and local campuses. Instructional design to increase student achievement STEM subjects, developing specialized education material to suit the needs of learners, measurement of innovation in the education sector as part of the Dubai School Inspection , innovative education governance models and partnerships among public and private sector entities have all emerged as key areas where exciting and innovative developments have taken place.

The measurement of these innovative developments, not only in education, but also across all sectors, has resulted in the recognition and celebration of talent on a scale that has never been done before. The long-term evidence of the value in this practice will be the harnessing of the potential, provision of opportunities and sustainable Human Capital Development among the population


  1. Global Standards of Excellence

The process of quality management in the education sector has taken on increasing significance as privately funded education options outstrip public education provisions, especially in the GCC region. In the United Arab Emirates, the number of agencies tasked with ensuring quality standard are numerous and they vary from Emirate to Emirate and across the various sectors of education. For example, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority regulates education in Dubai, Abu Dhabi Education Council regulated education inn Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah Education Zone has jurisdiction over RAK and Sharjah education council regulates provision in Sharjah. Each of these entities use different standard of regulation and institutions under their regulatory governance must meet the unique requirements. As institutions attempt to comply with the standard, questions arise about the relationship between quality improvement, quality assurance, and benchmarking. At the K-12 level, schools adhere to their local regulatory bodies, but must also demonstrate how they are complying with the National Agenda framework that has been set at the Federal level. Standards in the UAE National Agenda 2021 are benchmarked against international standardized test such as PISA, TIMMS and PIRILs. According to O’Reagain and Keegan (2000), benchmarking involves:

  1. Understanding in detail one’s own processes.
  2. Analyzing the processes of others.
  3. Comparing your own performance with that of others analyzed.
  4. Implementing the steps needed to close the performance gap.


The success of the UAE in becoming a first rate education system, largely depends on the extent to which the nation uses the benchmarking process to arrive at a model of education that suits the local context. In the meantime, stakeholders are also concerned about the current quality of the education provision and the associated K-12 school fees in the UAE. In 2016, an HSBC report revealed that UAE parents spent 140% more than the global average spend on education. The global spend stood at US$7631, while UAE parents were spending US$18,360. It comes as no surprise then that parents demand another level of quality compliance and accountability.


  1. The Role of Civic Education

The responsibility for education of the youth is shared among parents, schools and society. Increasingly, researchers are reporting that breakdown of the family structure and other social pressures on families globally, have resulted in schools being given added responsibility to inculcate values and proper ethics as part of their educational provisions. Regardless of the ongoing debate about where kids learn how to be good people, teachers now have increasingly pivotal role to play in shaping the moral character of students. Arguably, while schools cannot assume full responsibility for civic education, they should be equipped with resources to provide effective civic education from K through to grade 12. Instruction in civics and government will provide students with a basic understanding of civic life, politics, and government. It can also assist students in understanding political systems of their countries and the wider global context. Civic Education can provide a framework for students to understand the rights and responsibilities as citizens.In countries like Canada, the instruction in civic education is augmented by learning experiences outside of the classroom that enrich students and allow them to come to a better understanding of citizenship. In this process, education helps students to build their character, not just academically, but socially. Many learning tasks can promote moral and civic character development in students. Through class debates, student government, service learning activities, clubs and sports activities students can learn civility, courage, self-discipline, persistence, concern for the common good, respect for others, and other traits relevant to citizenship.

In the UAE Civic education has been introduced as part of the recent reforms announced by the Minister of Education in 2016. The curriculum that issued in public school will now be more holistic and will include four main pillars: character and ethics, individual and community, civic education and cultural education. The role that parents will play in ensuring continuity at homer is crucial and so it is important for both home and school to be sending the correct message to children on the qualities of moral character.

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