The number of private schools in Dubai will reach 250 by the year 2020, according to Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), at the ongoing International and Private Schools Education Forum (IPSEF) being hosted by Dubai.
There are 169 private schools in Dubai as of 2014, but this number will increase by almost 50% in the next six years to accommodate the projected 65% increase in student population from the current 243,000 level to almost 400,000 by 2020.
In 2014/15, 11 new schools opened – the highest recorded number in a single year in the history of Dubai. "These new openings help Dubai to meet its goal of providing places for the increasing population of school children. Nearly all new schools are opening across the newer parts of Dubai, consistent with the areas of highest population growth," added Dr Al Karam.
As Dubai prepares for the World Expo 2020, the growth of its future economy will continue to rely on attracting skilled professionals, "who will in turn look to the availability of high quality education for their children before embarking on their move," continued Dr Al Karam.
According to Dr Al Karam, more schools and greater school choice for parents will result in a new era of increased competition in Dubai's private schools. "Schools offering high quality teaching and learning, good value, and convenient locations will attract a greater number of families, achieve their growth targets and emerge as market leaders," he added.
Latest data from the KHDA show that more than half of the new schools that have been established since 2007, and 15 out of the 21 schools that have opened in the last two years, cater to a broad mix of international students from a range of countries. Dr Al Karam says these schools represent the fastest growing market segment of schools in Dubai, outpacing the growth of those catering predominantly to students from a single national or ethnic background.
Delegates attending the IPSEF 2014 at Dubai Knowledge Village were also told that schools catering to the international community have seen the highest growth in student enrolment in the past five years – an increase of 73%, compared with 34% at all other schools. Sixty schools in Dubai are included in this high growth, internationally-representative category, among them those offering a curriculum based on that of the UK, the US, France or the International Baccalaureate.
These international schools are welcomed as they have been found to consistently provide a high quality education to students in Dubai – 40 of the 43 inspected schools in this category offer a good or outstanding quality of education according to evaluations done by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau. "As well as the quality they offer, these schools are in demand because of the opportunity they give students to mix with others from around the world. With international schools leading the race for student enrolments in Dubai schools' new era of competitiveness, it is clear that the improved quality of education will emerge as the winner," Dr Al Karam concluded.