In the UAE, education is the right of every citizen. It is paid for by the government in public schools and institutions. The UAE Government issued Federal Law No. 11 of 1972 concerning Compulsory Education obligating the parent or the legal guardian to send their children to school.
New law in July 2012
Aiming to bring the compulsory school-leaving age more in line with that of the advanced countries, the UAE Cabinet approved a law in July 2012. This law makes it compulsory for children to start schooling at the age of six and remain in school until they complete Grade 12 or reach the age of 18, whichever occurs first. The law also obligates guardians of children to follow up on their children's commitment and continuity in education in line with the academic calendar set by Ministry of Education.
Today, the UAE offers comprehensive education to every male and female student from kindergarten to university. Illiteracy rates for both genders are less than 1 per cent as per a report by The National published in January 2014.
Continuation of the obligatory education stage
According to Article 14 of Ministerial Decree No. 820 of 2014 on Registration Terms for Students (PDF in Arabic), the student's parent must write a personal commitment to the school stating that he is aware of the rules of the Obligatory Education Law and any other resolutions issued in this regard and that he undertakes to send his children to school during this 'Obligatory Education Stage'.
National Innovation Strategy
In 2014, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the National Innovation Strategy that aims to make the UAE among the most innovative nations in the world within seven years. The strategy targets seven sectors; one of which is education.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund to Finance Innovation
In November 2015, Sheikh Mohammed launched this fund with a value of AED2 billion, which is a federal initiative designed to provide financing solutions for innovators across various sectors within the UAE. Priority will go to renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space sectors, and applicants must provide a business development plan to be eligible for funding.
National Literacy Strategy
Following the announcement of 2016 as the Year of Reading, the Cabinet issued directives to prepare an integrated National Literacy Strategy and a framework to produce a reading generation and establish the UAE as the capital of culture, knowledge and content.
Ministry of Education launched initiatives aiming to upgrade the education standards in the UAE according to the best international practices. These initiatives include:
- School Leadership Development Project (SLP)
- School Olympic Games Project
- School Health Education Project
- School health screening
- Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards
- Emirates Standardized Test (EmSAT)
National online brainstorming session and Cabinet retreat in 2013
In December 2013, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai called upon the nation to send ideas and suggestions through various online channels to improve the health and education sectors.
After the online brainstorming session, the UAE Cabinet undertook a retreat for two consecutive days in informal settings to analyse the ideas and suggestions and discuss further related issues. The retreat, held on Sir Bani Yas island, resulted in endorsing some initiatives and ideas on overhauling the education system and development of teachers.