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Snapshot of UAE Education System

The Ministry of Education is responsible for education in the UAE. Education in the UAE is well funded and all the citizens of UAE can go for free state-funded education that is managed by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education of the UAE government decides the educational policies, curriculum and studies carried out in every institution at all levels.

Education is free for UAE citizens at government schools or institutes up to the university level and mandatory for the children aged 6 to 18. Non-UAE citizens have to pay fee in order to attend government institutes. 

Snapshot of UAE Education System

The education system of UAE comprises of pre-school, primary, secondary, and higher education. The pre-school is optional. The education system in the UAE starts with primary education that lasts for 6 years, followed by three years of preparatory schooling which entitles students to go for general or technical secondary education. 

Pre-School Education- Kindergarten

The pre-school education in UAE is optional. Children aged 4-5 attend kindergarten. The pre-school education acquaints the children with the school’s social life. At kindergarten, children develop language, social, physical and academic skills. 

Basic Education

The basic education is divided into stages:
  • Primary education
  • Preparatory education 

Primary Education

Upon completion of the pre-school education, students can go for primary education. Students at the age of 6 can enter primary school and the primary education lasts 6 years. The primary education in UAE is compulsory. The Primary education focuses on basic literacy and numeracy skills, and covers basic education in mathematics, sciences, and language.

Preparatory Education

After primary schooling, starts the preparatory education of 3 years that is also compulsory to attend. The preparatory education qualifies pupils for general or technical secondary education. This level of education marks the end of the compulsory schooling period. 

Secondary Education

The secondary education prepares pupils for higher education institutions, technical or vocational training, or for the job market. 

General Secondary Education

General Secondary education lasts for 3 years. It covers grades 10, 11 and 12.  It comprises of a common first year followed by a specialization in Science or Arts. At the conclusion of the twelfth year, pupils are required to take the examination in order to get a secondary school leaving certificate (Shahadat Al-Thanawiya Al-Amma).  

Technical Secondary Education

The technical secondary education is offered by technical, commercial and agricultural secondary schools. This level of education emphasizes on a specific field and prepares students for the job in that particular field. This level of education is split up into two levels:
  • Level 1 includes technical preparatory education
  • Level 2 includes technical, commercial, agricultural secondary education

Higher Education

Higher education in UAE is imparted by both public and private universities and higher colleges of technology. The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research administers the higher education.

The national higher education system consists of the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), Zayed University (ZU), and the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). There are many private e universities and colleges that are open to all pupils. They are licensed and accredited by the Commission for Academic Accreditation, functioning within the Ministry.  The undergraduate and graduate studies are offered at the higher education institutions in UAE. 

To know more about higher education system in UAE, click here

Structure of UAE Education 

Period of Compulsory Education

  • Entry Age: 6
  • Exit Age: 18

Pre-School Education- Kindergarten

  • Ages: 4 to 5 

Primary Education

  • School Type offering this education: Primary/Elementary School
  • Duration: 6 years
  • Ages: 6 to 12

Preparatory Education

  • School Type offering this education: Preparatory School
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Ages: 12 to 15

General Secondary Education

  • School Type offering this education: General Secondary School
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Ages: 15 to 18
  • Credential: Secondary school leaving certificate (Shahadat Al-Thanawiya Al-Amma) 

Technical Secondary Education

  • School Type offering this education: Technical, Agricultural & Commercial Secondary School
  • Duration: 6 years
  • Ages: 12 to 18
  • Credential: Technical Secondary Diploma

Higher Education

  • Ages: 18 and above

Educational Credentials

Following are the credential at different levels of study-
  • Secondary School Leaving Certificate
  • Technical Secondary Diploma
  • Post-secondary diploma
  • Higher diploma
  • Bachelor's Degree
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
  • Master's degree
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