UAE: New school rating system announced in Abu Dhabi

Private schools will be ranked as ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘acceptable’, or ‘weak’ under the new scheme's parameters

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Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 5 May 2023, 10:46 PM

Last updated: Sat 6 May 2023, 4:39 PM

A new rating system for private schools has been launched in Abu Dhabi.Called National Identity Mark, it will be focusing on institutions' efforts to boost students' understanding and appreciation of UAE culture and traditions.

The scheme — the first of its kind in the UAE — comes as part of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge's (Adek) effort to boost school transparency and empower parents to select the ideal school environments for their children.

Schools will be ranked as ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’, ‘Acceptable’, or ‘Weak’ based on the quality of their national identity programmes. Ratings for the scheme's initial phase will be announced at the end of the current academic year.

Adek clarified that National Identity Mark rankings will be evaluated separately from its annual Irtiqa’a Inspection, which covers the performance standards of the emirate’s private schools and provides recommendations for improvements.

What will the new system assess?

Essentially, the goal is to boost Emirati students’ understanding of the UAE’s traditions, customs and values, allowing them to navigate the diverse global landscape with a strong foundation based on their own cultural background.

The evaluation will cover three main domains, each with three relevant dimensions:

  • 'Culture’ includes history, heritage and Arabic language, which represents a key focus area within the framework
  • ‘Values’ includes respect, compassion, and global understanding
  • ‘Citizenship’ includes belonging, volunteering, and conservation

The new system will assess curricula and school culture to help ensure educational equity, transparency, and accountability across all Abu Dhabi private schools that have nationals enrolled.

In addition, schools will be given the opportunity to further enhance and develop their national identity programs.


In the first phase of the system's rollout, Adek will prioritise schools with the highest number of Emirati students.

Schools without national enrolment can request evaluation if they have relevant programmes and activities that immerse expatriate students in the rich heritage of the country.

"For many parents, the reinforcement of national identity via education is of critical importance as it helps instill in their children a sense of belonging and pride," said Sara Musallam, Minister of State for Early Education, chairman of the Federal Agency for Early Childhood, and chairman of Adek.

“We recognise the importance of cultivating a robust national identity that anchors our Emirati students in their culture. The launch of the National Identity Mark and inspection framework will provide parents with valuable insights into the quality of national identity programs within private schools," she added.

“By strengthening national identity through educational programmes, schools can support students to further appreciate their roots, traditions, and values. The National Identity Mark will increase transparency and accountability, while enabling parents to make informed decisions about their children's education. This directly supports the development of well-rounded individuals who are proud of their Emirati identity that are equipped to positively represent Abu Dhabi and the UAE on a global scale.”


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