United Arab Emirates
Preprimary & Primary Education
Emirati women generally stay at home and take care of their younger children, sometimes with the assistance of expatriate domestics from the Philippines or Sri Lanka. Emirati families tend to be large and female family members often provide childcare for their younger relatives. Females make up only about 13 percent of UAE citizens in the work force. Childcare facilities are uncommon and the demand for them modest. They tend to cater to the needs of expatriate families who include a working mother.
Primary school education is compulsory for all UAE citizens starting at age six. Kindergartens, which are for children aged four and five, are generally considered to be part of the primary tier rather than a separate program. Interestingly, kindergarten is the only level where a majority of the teachers, all women, are UAE nationals rather than expatriates. Government policy is to provide teacher-student ratios of 1:20 at kindergarten and primary levels. As shown by recent UAE Government statistics from the Ministry of Education and Youth (2001), current teacher-student ratios are well within this proposed range. The teacher-student ratio of kindergarten and primary levels is 1:17.
Primary education is for six years divided into two three-year cycles, a basic or "junior primary stage" in which one teacher has a single class throughout the day, and the "senior primary stage," in which there are different teachers for the different school subjects. "Preparatory education" includes classes from Grades VII to IX of the first primary sequence or from Forms I to III of the preparatory stage. The school year extends over 32 weeks for both the kindergarten and the basic junior primary stage.
Core subjects in the junior primary stage include Islamic education, Arabic language, English language, mathematics, and science. Activity subjects include art, physical education, music, and family education for girls. The same subjects are taught at the senior primary stage, but the number of periods for some of them is increased. At the senior stage, social studies join the required subjects. The same subjects are taught at the preparatory stage with an increase in content and the number of class periods. Social studies become divided into three separate units that include history, geography and civics.
The Ministry of Education and Youth determines the curricula and defines the number of periods for each subject, pursuant to ministerial resolutions, which take into account curriculum developments and evaluation studies. In the senior stages it consists of 36 weeks and is divided into two terms. The length of the academic year at the different stages and the number of periods for each subject matter are specified in ministerial resolutions. Ministerial Resolution No. 2263/2 of 1995 specifies the number of teaching periods for the different subjects and activities for the primary and preparatory stages of general education. The time allocations include the primary stage with 32 weekly periods (hours) in Grades I-III, and 34 periods (boys) or 36 periods (girls) in Grades IV-VI. The preparatory stage has 34 weekly periods for boys or 36 periods for girls in each form.
Schooling, uniform costs, and related expenses are provided without charge to the students and school transportation is also free. Emirtas, the government establishment for public transportation, is responsible for transporting students to and from schools.
There are two general procedures for evaluation and examinations, one for the primary stage and one for both the preparatory and the secondary stages. A two-term academic year system is in place with each term considered a separate, independent unit. At the end of the academic year, successful students are awarded a certificate and are promoted to the next class. These certificates are authenticated and verified by the school and educational zone officials. The pass rate is generally over 90 percent. Dropout rates are in the 4-5 percent range.
A specific period is set aside at the end of each term for examinations, and students are promoted to higher grades according to their marks in both the examinations and coursework throughout the year. In both the preparatory and secondary stages, a test is held at the end of each term. A coursework mark is added to decide the student's final result. The diagnostic evaluations project for the basic curriculum requires teachers to prepare educational activities and to offer remedial activities to students with learning difficulties or higher cognitive activities to those with very high achievement.
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