Our commitment to education is found in a variety of curricula and schools we provide to our residents. Our government has made a huge effort to ensure that the education system in Dubai is up to international standards for both citizens and residents alike. The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) grades and supervises all Dubai educational schools and institutions. The KHDA also provides excellent resources, including a comprehensive ranking with reports, a directory of all Dubai schools with addresses, contact numbers and fee structure.
Many expatriate schools in Dubai are English-speaking private schools that have English, American or International Baccalaureate curricula, as well as a large variety of local and national curricula. The school year is divided into three terms (autumn, spring and summer). The school day extends from 8am to 2pm or 3pm, Sunday to Thursday, but is shorter during the holy month of Ramadan. Be sure to secure a space for your child as soon as you can.
English is so widely used in Dubai that you can get by without having to learn a single word of Arabic. However, knowing some basic Arabic will enrich your time in our city. As enforced by Dubai’s Ministry of Education, all expatriate children have Arabic lessons at school. You can find a list of Arabic language institutes at the KHDA.
Nursery Schools and Preschools
Some nursery schools accept babies from as young as three months, although most prefer to take on children who are walking age (around 12 months). Fees and timings vary, so it’s best to call around and visit a few nursery schools to get an idea of what’s available. As a general rule of thumb, most nursery schools are open for four or five hours in the morning and charge anything from AED 3,000 to AED 12,000 per term. The more popular ones have long waiting lists, so you should enroll your child as early as possible. You can also look into some of the bigger primary schools that have nursery sections.
Children start mandatory schooling at age four. Some private primary schools conduct entrance tests. Most private schools cater to one or more expatriate communities. Delhi Private School, Our Own English High School, the Dubai Modern High School and the Indian High School offer either a CBSE or an ICSE Indian syllabus. Dubai English Speaking School, Jumeirah Primary School, Jebel Ali Primary School, Jumeirah English Speaking School, King’s School and the Horizon School all offer British primary education up to the age of 11. Dubai English Speaking School and Jumeirah English Speaking School are among the top primary schools of choice for many expats, with Dubai College leading the list of secondary schools.
Dubai British School, Dubai College, Dubai Gem Private School, English College Dubai, and Jumeirah College are all British 11-18 secondary schools that offer GCSE and A-Levels. St. Mary’s Catholic High School offers the British curriculum GCSE and A-Level programmes to the Dubai community. The Emirates International School, Wellington School and Cambridge International High School are also secondary schools that offer a combination of GCSE, IGCSE and IB courses to the expatriate community. Cambridge International and St. Mary’s are popular choices for the Indian expat community. The International School of Choueifat and Emirates International School offer both British and American curricula. In 2002, the Arab Unity School became the first school in the Middle East to obtain Fellowship Centre status from Cambridge International Examinations.
A growing number of schools offer an American curriculum. The Universal American School (UAS), which is located in Dubai Festival City, the American School of Dubai (ASD), which is located in Jumeirah, and Dubai American Academy (DAA) in Al Barsha are popular choices. ASD offers an accredited American high school diploma; UAS and DAA offer both an American-accredited high school diploma and the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. There are also some primary and high schools that offer German, Canadian, Iranian, Japanese and other curricula.
Registering Your Child
If possible, try to visit the UAE up to six months prior to your relocation to Dubai, so you can look around at the schools and register well in advance. In some schools, students need to take an admission test. Many schools and colleges offer pupil registration forms online. The KHDA website has a directory listing and guide for all government, private and special needs schools, day care centres, etc.
Documents Required for Registering Your Child
NOTE: Original transfer certificates must contain the following details:
- Application form from the school
- Copies of student’s and parent’s passports and Dubai visa pages
- 8 passport photos of the student
- Copies of student’s birth certificate
- School records of the last two years
- Immunization records and medical history
- A transfer certificate from the student’s previous school.
The Ministry of Education also requires the following documents for any student enrolling in any school in Dubai:
- Date of enrolment
- Year of placement
- Date the child left the school
- School stamp
- Official signature
Special Needs Education
- Original transfer certificate (to be completed by the current school)
- Most recently issued original report card
- If the student was attending a school anywhere other than the UAE, Australia, Canada, Europe or USA, the transfer certificate and the most recently issued original report card must be attested by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UAE Embassy in that country
If your child has physical or learning difficulties, there are several organisations that can help. Some mainstream schools will try to accommodate children suffering from dyslexia, ADHD and other similar challenges, but are rarely geared up to take students with other needs. Special needs schools operate without government assistance and therefore rely on donations, sponsorship, grants and help from volunteer workers. All charge tuition fees.