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United Arab Emirates

Teaching Profession

The remarkable growth of education in the UAE is well documented statistically. The vision and hard work of many contributors in bringing about such an achievement should be recognized. Starting with a situation in which about 90 percent of the population was illiterate—and school buildings, books, curriculum, and teachers were nearly unknown—a modern comprehensive public educational system has been developed.

Unlike many countries, a lack of financial resources has not been a barrier to the development of the educational system. Lacking teachers in the UAE, the government has been able to recruit teachers from other countries to fill staffing needs. Most such teachers are Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians, and Palestinians. This situation reflects the way in which the UAE fills its needs for labor and professional services in general, by hiring hundreds of thousands of qualified people from other countries on multiple year contracts.

Consequently, the economy relies tremendously on expatriate expertise and labor. An exception to expatriate participation is the government, a primary employer of UAE citizens. Emiratis constitute about 10 percent of the total UAE workforce, and only about 1 percent of government jobs are excluded. In 1994, about 26 percent of the teachers in the UAE were nationals, an increase of 556 percent since 1985-1986. A reported 54 percent of the kindergarten teachers in the UAE were nationals and all were women. The primary school teachers included 6 percent male nationals and 44 percent female nationals; overall, 31 percent were nationals. At the secondary level national males comprised only 5 percent of the teachers while female nationals comprised 36 percent, with nationals making up 23 percent of the total. In the private education sector there is a significantly lower percentage of Emirati teachers.

The selection, training, and effective use of teachers are a MOEY responsibility. The ministry seeks to accomplish high quality teacher training for both pre- and in-service, in addition to improvements in salary scales and job descriptions for teachers.

An often cited goal of the ministry is for all teachers in the UAE to have university degrees and classroom experience before their appointment. Considerable time and expense is devoted to teacher recruitment domestically and in other Arab countries. Expatriate applicants sit for a written examination either in the UAE or in their home country. Those who pass the written test may be selected for a personal interview to determine if they are qualified for teaching and, if so, which stage of education is appropriate. UAE citizens are only required to have interviews.

Graduates of the UAE University are recruited into the teaching profession but their numbers are not enough to meet the needs of the expanding number of classes and the increasing number of students. To address this problem the Ministry collaborates with the UAE University to provide the required teaching staff in various specializations. It also qualifies nationals holding a GSEC (General Secondary Education Certificate) through a pre-service training program that is preliminary to university study, and another program of external tutorial studies for teachers for the primary stage (basic, junior and senior). The pre-service training program has attracted several young men and women to the teaching profession. In coordination with the university, the ministry has also prepared courses, regulations and methods of supervision. There are additional programs offered to kindergarten, family education, and secretarial studies teacher trainees. Other proposals to offer UAEU graduates incentives to work in the teaching profession are under consideration.

Training and preparation programs are intended to raise the scientific and educational skills and cultural background of those who are already teachers. The UAEU education faculty collaborates with the MOEY in carrying out in-service training programs and courses, and practical pre-service training programs. The MOEY pre- and in-service teacher training department is involved in this training through the programs it prepares in coordination with the dducational affairs sector. The departments of primary, preparatory, and secondary education; the educational zones offices; and the inspectorate take part in the training programs.

Teaching training programs and short courses include:

  • Orientation programs and courses held for new teachers and inspectors who are briefed about the UAE, its educational system regulations, and procedures governing work.
  • Inspectors' training courses held in the educational zones and offices for new teachers to familiarize them with basic principles concerning planning, evaluation, teaching, and changes and developments in the curricula.
  • Basic and foundation programs for new UAEU graduates (apart from those trained in the faculty of education). These programs aim at enhancing teaching skills.
  • Qualifying programs given to candidates for supervisory jobs (senior teacher, supervisor, principal, and vice principal).
  • Development programs seeking to train teachers and acquaint them with new developments in curricula, teaching aids, and methods.
  • "Activating programs" conducted in different zones to revise existing academic programs, update their content, and make sure that work is being carried out properly and accurately.
  • Remedial programs respond to teacher efficiency reports that include directives, recommendations and suggestions to improve selected aspects of performance.

There are also training courses outside the ministry. Selected national teachers are allowed to participate in training courses abroad in coordination with the National Committee of Education, Culture and Science and the Educational Bureau for the Arab Gulf Countries.

The average salary of a UAE national teacher in the federal system was reportedly about US$1400 per month in 2000. The salary scale for UAE teachers, according to Cabinet Decree No. 316/4 for the year 1996, ranges from a minimum salary for teachers with a qualification below the GSEC, to a maximum level for university graduates with advanced degrees. There are two scales in use, one for UAE teachers and the other for expatriates. Teachers with a master's degree receive an additional allowance of US$170 per month, while teachers with a Ph.D. receive an additional US$340. Teachers working in distant areas receive a remote area increment in accordance with the Civil Service Law. In addition to their salaries, teachers receive allowances for accommodation, transport and cost of living, plus an annual supplement based on qualifications. A special scale for teachers' salaries has been in force since 1976. A study was submitted to the Cabinet recommended awarding a special allowance amounting to 30 percent of the basic salary to UAE national teachers as an incentive to continue their work as teachers or remain in the profession. This policy is aimed at counterbalancing the rise in salaries in other departments and establishments, which attract distinguished teachers with higher salaries.

Any teacher with an "excellent" grade in his/her annual performance is eligible for promotion to an administrative or technical job. Administrative jobs include administrative supervisor, vice-principal, principal, and administrative inspector. Technical and professional jobs include senior teacher, inspector, and senior inspector. Promotions favor UAE teachers over expatriates and take place after candidates attend specialized courses where their abilities and skills are evaluated. They then attend further training courses and workshops.

In-service training is the responsibility of the preand in-service teacher training department. These courses are compulsory for the newly appointed teachers as well as for candidates for promotion to supervisory position.


Additional topics

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