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United Arab Emirates

Secondary Education

The secondary stage lasts three years. In the first year students follow a common syllabus. In the second and third years, they specialize in science or literature. At the end of the secondary stage, successful students obtain the Certificate of General Secondary Education (CGSE).

At the secondary level the following subjects are taught in the annual sequence indicated:

  • Year I: Islamic education, Arabic language, English language, history, geography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, computer science, physical education, and family education (for girls).
  • Years II-III: Islamic education, Arabic language, English language, mathematics, physical education, and family education (for girls). These are the basic subjects. In addition, students can choose to join either the science section or the literary section, and have to study the following additional subjects: history, geography, sociology, and economics in the literary section; physics, chemistry, biology, and geology in the science section.
  • Year III: there is an increase in the number of subjects taught in the second year of secondary in each of the two streams. Literary-section students are taught philosophical subjects, logic, and psychology instead of sociology and economics.

Ministerial Resolution No. 2263/2 for the year 1995 allocated the number of teaching periods for the different subjects and activity subjects for the secondary stage of general education. Thirty-four weekly periods (boys) or 36 periods (girls) are required in the first two years; 36 weekly periods (boys and girls) are required in the third year.

Preparatory education lasts three years (age group 12-14) and qualifies students for general or technical secondary education. General secondary education lasts for three years and is for the age group 15-17 years old. After the first year of core subjects, students can choose to follow either a science or a literary stream. Technical education comprises three main streams: technical, agricultural, and commercial. It is divided into two levels, one for technical preparatory education, and the other for technical, commercial, and agricultural secondary education, each lasting three years. In technical education courses English is used for specialized subjects but all other subjects are taught in Arabic.

At the end of the general and technical secondary stages, students are awarded a certificate after passing the general examination held at the end of each academic year. This certificate qualifies a student to undertake higher studies at university level. In 1996, programs of technical education to be carried out jointly with German technical institutions were initiated. Priorities of the Ministry at the secondary level are to reduce the failure and dropout rates and incidents of truancy and to increase the efficiency of administrators through executive development programs. Secondary education development studies includes research on teaching strategies that take into account individual differences among learners, and directing educational resources for improvements in individualized instruction. A further focus is with educational guidance or counseling, monitoring and directing of students to areas that suits their capabilities and aptitudes.

The School Activities Project seeks to help learners develop their capabilities and interests in science and technology by adding two successive periods for program activities. Activities include electronics, automotive engineering, astronomy, basic electricity, and maritime sciences.

Comprehensive changes have taken place in recent years in the curricula, syllabi, laboratories, and overall framework of technical education to contribute emiratisation and increase the number of technical school graduates in the workforce. A Technical Education Development Plan seeks more direct connections between work and study. Studies for the development of technical education include both the practical and theoretical aspects of different specializations. They also include a worksite participation plan allowing graduates opportunities to work with modern equipment and facilities.

Government policy is to provide teacher-student ratios of 1:15 at intermediate and secondary levels. Current teacher-student ratios are well within this proposed range. The teacher-student ratio of intermediate and secondary levels is 1:10. On the average, from 12 to 14 percent of the students must repeat a grade because of failure.

Private Schools: The UAE employs great numbers of expatriates from various countries, many of whom have children. The different national groups have developed a large number of schools to accommodate their children. Private schools in the country range from excellent to poor.

Private schools follow the curricula of their homeland but they operate under the licensing and supervision of the Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY). The MOEY has a private education department to supervise private schools, providing the regulations, resolutions, and follow-up procedures for the implementation of national policy guidelines.

The ministry supplies textbooks to private schools that follow the national syllabus. It also sends inspectors to supervise private school teachers who may attend the training courses held for their counterparts working in government schools.

The ministry monitors the management of private schools and institutes in an effort to ensure that teacher salaries and privileges are comparable to those of instructional staff in government schools. MOEY teachers' salaries average about US$1,400 a month. In spite of the parity regulations, private school teachers reportedly earn, on the average, about half that amount, even though private schoolteachers' qualifications are very similar to those of government schoolteachers.

The ministry is also responsible for regulations concerning private school management such as complying with teaching load requirements. By law, teaching loads in the private sector are supposed to be the same as that of their counterparts at government schools. In spite of this policy, some private school teachers have many more classroom hours per week than those in the public sector.

Private school syllabi are based on the curricula of their respective national educational systems. These syllabi are to be approved by the appropriate departments at the ministry. Article 17 of Federal Law No. 9 of 1972 specifies that private schools have to teach certain subjects according to the ministry's syllabus, including Islamic education, Arabic language as a basic subject for Arab students and as an additional subject for non-Arab students, and social studies. Private schools in which Arabic is not the medium of instruction are to teach Arabic language to non-Arabic speakers. In this context, the Ministry has approved in conjunction with the Educational Bureau for Arab Gulf States the use of particular texts. If the number of Arab students at a private school is less than 20 percent of the total enrollment, Islamic education and social studies may be taught in English using textbooks prepared by the ministry.

Special & Gifted Education: Most of the resources of the MOEY are used to conduct the routine activities of a large and rapidly expanding national education system. In recent years, however, the educational system in the UAE has recognized the different educational needs of two groups, the gifted and students with special needs. The special education department has initiated several pilot and other projects to address the needs of students with advanced capabilities and aptitudes. These projects seek to provide students who exhibit high degrees of intellectual ability and social and psychological development a wider scope of learning and educational experience. The project follows a methodology of grouping students homogeneously, significantly enriching the content of the curriculum, and promoting students from one stage to another depending on their ability and achievements.

For students with physical and mental disabilities, the ministry has set up classes in general secondary schools as well as adult education centers. From the perspective of the MOEY, these students are not regarded as being handicapped but simply as students with particular needs that should be met to ensure their participation in society.

Centers set up for those with special needs are supervised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and serve those with hearing and physical disabilities, the visually impaired, and others with special needs, including children of school age, most of whom are at the primary and intermediate age levels. This ministry coordinates its programs with the MOEY and is constantly improving its facilities, while at the same time recognizing the customary role of the Islamic family in caring for the disabled. The percentage of disabled people in the UAE is estimated to be similar to the worldwide average of about 10 percent of the population.

New developments to care for those with special needs are in progress, including a large facility in Abu Dhabi with 70 classrooms and 20 training workshops, and the Al Thikka facility, which was officially opened in Sharjah in July 1999. In October 2000, MOEY, together with the Red Crescent Society, also opened a center for autistic children in Abu Dhabi, the first of a number of such centers planned by the ministry.

Additional topics

Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceUnited Arab Emirates - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education