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United Arab Emirates - Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceUnited Arab Emirates - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education

CONSTITUTIONAL & LEGAL FOUNDATIONS

The UAE's constitution established a federal government that leaves much power to the emirates. Legal codes differ among the emirates. The government has executive, legislative, and judicial branches, but the executive strongly dominates. There are no political parties and no popular elections. Although the governmental institutions are modern in form, the base of political power is traditional and hereditary, with the ruling family of each emirate representing its dominant tribe and region. Politics is largely a process of satisfying the claims to power of ruling families and their factions as well as merchants and religious leaders.

Because of the UAE's oil wealth, citizens pay no taxes and receive generous social welfare benefits, including free medical and dental care. The UAE has a modern health care system that is comparable to that found in Western industrial societies. Facilities are concentrated in the larger cities, although most people have access to basic care. Citizens may also be sent abroad for specialized treatment.

After the founding of the UAE in 1971, there was tremendous expansion of public education facilities. Section 17 of the Constitution declares that education is fundamental to the progress of society and is to be compulsory at the primary level and free at all levels. Uniforms, books, equipment, and transportation are also free. In the early years of the UAE's existence, education was second only to defense in the federal budget, a pattern that continues today.

Education, as routinely indicated in government policy, is considered a key element in promoting the necessary skills for social and economic development. As in other countries, priority was given to the needs of school-aged children. Increased attention is now being given nontraditional student populations. The Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY), the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR), and higher-level federal authorities routinely promulgate laws and regulations concerning education. Some important laws are included in discussing particular features of education in the UAE.


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