Top private-school operators have agreed to operate a range of government schools as part of the ground-breaking new Ajyal Schools model, launched by the Emirates Schools Establishment (ESE), which aims to dramatically elevate the quality of public education in Dubai.
Three key private-school operators with significant experience in running top-tier schools in the region have come on board: Bloom Education, Aldar Education and Taaleem. Bloom already operates a number of British- curriculum, American-curriculum and IB-curriculum schools in the UAE, including Bloom World Academy, a progressive, family-first IB school that will launch in August 2022 with a range of innovative policies, including flexible starting times. Aldar Education is also highly experienced in operating high-quality, forward-looking private schools in Abu Dhabi and, ever since opening its first school, The Pearl Academy, in 2007, Aldar Education has grown into a leading provider of private education with over 20,000 students across a network of eight Academies and Aldar Education partner and stand-alone schools.
As part of the new model the private operators will oversee the day-to-day running of a first phase of ten public schools, with responsibility for hiring teachers, delivering curriculum and everyday operations, while the government will provide all the funding. Fees will remain free of charge for the students attending these public schools.
One of the most dramatic changes that students are likely to notice is the fact that the new model will now combine the UAE national curriculum with an international curriculum, which will be delivered in English. The national curriculum will encompass the Arabic language, Islamic education, moral education and social studies, and will be under the direct supervision of the Emirates Schools Establishment. Meanwhile, subjects such as maths, science and more will follow international curricula – which in the first phase will be the American curriculum – and will be delivered in English, by newly hired teachers.
The model will be applied to all students from Grades I to IV, in 10 different schools. The aim is to then to roll it out to 28 different schools within three years.
Although this model of new and improved, free education delivered by experienced and progressive private providers currently only applies in public schools – which essentially cater to Emiratis only – it does raise the question of whether, one day, free, high-quality education for students of all nationalities could ever be a possibility in Dubai. Could we see a UK type system of completely free education and schooling for all locals and expats – with private educators providing an alternative, as in the UK? You can see how it could drive investment from overseas…
Considering the big-picture thinking that the UAE government is renowned for, nothing seems impossible…
This private-public partnership is all part of the recent shake-up to the UAE education sector, which saw a series of major changes introduced to help boost quality on all fronts, including the hiring of three new ministers.
One of the new ministers, Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri – newly appointed Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology and Chairwomen of the Emirates Schools Establishment – explained how the Ajyal Schools project fits into the larger scheme of modernisation for the UAE education sector. Al Amiri said:
“The Ajyal Schools system aligns with the Emirates Schools Establishment efforts to develop distinct and advanced education models, serve the development and modernisation plans pursued by the establishment to improve the quality of its educational outputs. The positive outputs of the new project will reflect on the educational system in the country, by enhancing its quality, the efficiency of teachers, and the skills and capabilities of students, under the framework of a futuristic educational vision, based on various educational models that suit each region and emirate in the UAE.”
“The application of this advanced educational model comes in line with the UAE’s directives to enhance the quality of education, sustain the development process to enrich the students’ experience in the public education sector and enhance the quality of their education and skill acquisitions in line with the UAE’s aspirations.”
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