United Arab Emirates
Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
Budgeting and financial procedures are under the control of the various central government councils composed of the leaders or designates of each emirate. No distinction is made between the personal fortune of Sheik Zayed, reportedly the fifth richest man in the world, and the national treasury. Budgets are routinely drawn up by ministry officials with the aid of consultants and reviewed at different levels. While a system of checks and balances can be identified and lead to moderation in decision-making, the views of the Sheik and of individual national leaders can be more readily incorporated into public policy than is the case with the weaker and less authoritarian executive branches in the Western democracies.
At the ministerial level, educational issues are the domain of a High Committee including the ministers of education, planning, finance and industry, labor and social welfare, the chancellor of the UAE University, the undersecretary of education, and two MOEY appointees. It coordinates and develops national policies and implementation efforts. A MOEY committee on Regulations and Development drafts policy, budgets and implementation procedures for the High Committee and is composed of the minister and his top five assistants.
The primary focus for the future is to establish and maintain a viable system that keeps pace with international developments and helps students acquire the skills required in a modern labor force. In particular, government strategy ambitiously seeks to introduce the latest information technology at all levels, including a computer for every 10 students at kindergarten, every five students at primary school, every two students at preparatory school, and for every student at secondary school. There are strong advocates for the use of technology but critics also warn of the overemphasis on such tools that can lead to the neglect of traditional learning skills and an emphasis on format rather than content. Cooperation between the public and private sector, which represents a diverse collection of institutions with United States, United Kingdom, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Iranian, and Filipino curricula, along with other institutions, is considered to be a necessity for program success.
As in all sectors of the UAE economy the "emiratisation," (the replacement of expatriate specialists from other countries by local nationals) of teaching staff is ambitiously scheduled to reach 90 percent by the year 2020. The government regards emiratisation as necessary if the UAE's Islamic and Arab traditions are to be perpetuated and suitable employment of educated nationals is to be found. A planning, development, and evaluation Office, directly supervised by the Minister of Education, has been established by the ministry to implement various emiratisation strategies.
The use of advanced educational technology is also being emphasized at the postsecondary level. In keeping with its present educational and national economic development and diversification strategy, the UAE University is seeking to establish an internationally prominent information technology college in Al Ain. Requiring an estimated US$62 million, the UAEU College of Information Technology will be an ultra modern facility located inside the new "University Town" that is planned for Al Maqam. The new area will consolidate various university facilities currently scattered around the city. The IT College, conceived by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the UAE University, will be housed in a state-of-the-art building, designed to match future requirements. The curriculum will encompass a total of nine degree programs, including software engineering, information systems, telecommunications, educational technology, e-commerce, and information security. Upon completion the IT College anticipates an initial enrollment capacity of 1,300 students, 300 males and 1,000 females. The capacity will be gradually increased to a total of 3,000, 1,200 male and 1,800 female students. The Dubai Emirate Government has also granted land to Zayed University in the large Dubai Internet City complex to enable it to establish an IT facility in premises to be provided by the Zone Authority.
The Department of Information and Research of the MOEY is responsible to undertake theoretical and applied research and field studies and to coordinate and assist other units in carrying out such research. Research topics are either suggested by the leading authorities at the ministry or compiled by the department after reviewing current issues and analyzing data. Educational research is carried out by research teams following an educational research regulatory code. A 1995 ministerial report concluded that "[T]he professional capabilities of the research co-coordinators in educational zones and offices should be developed; studies and trends related to establishing a research center at the Ministry should be encouraged; and, equally, relationships involving information and research exchanges with educational research centers at the local, Arab and international levels should be developed." The documentation and statistics section provides in English all data related to educational research. This section also offers its research services to educational researchers working in the Arabic language through the annual directory of Arab Educational Abstracts.
Educational research is carried out by the MOEY on a variety of topics. Summaries of these efforts are available, usually in Arabic. Research results are more selectively shared than is the practice in North America and Europe. The Ministry of Information and Culture is the primary spokesman for the government on all matters, including educational concerns. UAEU also conducts research, some of which is shared in Arabic- and English-language academic journals. To date, however, most of the research available on education in the UAE comes from doctoral dissertations written by UAE nationals for degrees at American and British universities. The limited amount of research and the fact that that which is accomplished is generally not readily available to other professionals makes keeping abreast of scholarship on education in the UAE a challenging endeavor.
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