Region will require 6,200 additional schools by 2020

DUBAI — An additional 6,200 schools will be required by 2020 to meet the growing student enrollments in the region, according to a recent GCC education growth report.

By Afshan Ahmed

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Published: Mon 20 Sep 2010, 2:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:42 PM

The total number of students will jump from 9.5 million to over 11.3 million as countries like UAE and Saudi Arabia see an increase in expatriate population in the next 20 years, says Alpen Capital (ME) Limited in a survey.

As a result, more private operators will enter the field with their share expected to rise from 11 per cent to 14 per cent. Over a million students currently study at private institutions in the region and it is set to increase at a Compound Annual Gross Rate (CAGR) of 3.3 per cent, reaching 1.9 million in 10 years and this will lead to a shortage of teachers the region.

Almost 376, 612 students attend private schools in the UAE, with the private sector participation highest here as compared to other GCC countries. The country’s schools offer 13 different curricula.

Enrollments in the private secondary education rose form 45 per cent in 2000 to 67 per cent in 2007 in the UAE according to the report.

“The education industry is poised for unparalleled and consistent growth propelled by increased private sector participation, rising education needs in the region as well as government initiatives to improve the education system,” said Sanjay Vig, managing director at Alpen Capital.

An increasing number of UAE nationals attend private schools as the standards of education in government schools are considered low. Authorities have, however, introduced various initiatives to raise the bar on education, and 22.5 per cent of the federal budget has been allocated to education this year.

In Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) introduced a New School Model that will graduate bilingual students who will be able to seamlessly move on to university. ADEC aims to reduce the number of high school graduates that have to take bridging programmes to 20 per cent by 2018.

In Dubai, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) monitors the quality at public and private schools. In 2008, an inspection system was established to elevate standards by rating schools based on certain criteria.

More than 27, 832 UAE nationals were enrolled in private schools for the year 2009-2010 in Dubai. According to KHDA, more than 50 per cent of national students are being educated by private providers, with a majority at US curriculum schools.

Overall, the Gross Enrollment Rate (GRE) in primary, secondary and tertiary education is very high according to Alpen Capital.

By 2020, the GRE in secondary education is expected to be 100 per cent with all children between 12 and 17 attending secondary schools.

Tertiary education is posed for a 3 per cent growth rate to reach 53.7 per cent in the same year.

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