With the population predicted to reach two million by 2020 – driven mostly by expats– the demand for quality international schools in the region will continue to increase as government education in Dubai is only open to Emirati students.
“The Expo 2020 win will fuel further prosperity in the emirate, with huge developments expected in infrastructure, including educational institutes; creating more employment opportunities, the win will lead to a greater influx of expatriate workers.” Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of The Knowledge and Human Development Agency (KHDA) said.
“In the next five years we expect to see 70 new or expanded schools, providing places for a further 90,000 students across Dubai”
“In the next five years we expect to see 70 new or expanded schools, providing places for a further 90,000 students across Dubai,” he added.
International schools in the region have seen massive growth in the past ten years with the demand outstretching supply. According to the International School Consultancy Group there are currently 427 international schools in the UAE teaching 370,000 students, including 230 schools in Dubai where 190,200 students attend.
This compares to just 97 international schools in the UAE in the year 2000 teaching 77,000 students. By the year 2009, this number had increased to 251 international schools in the UAE teaching 174,600 students.
Bassam Abushakra, Regional Director at Educational Services Overseas Limited (ESOL) who have been operating international schools in the region since 1976, says the company can’t keep up with the boom.
“All the good schools are already full here so they will need many more,” he said. “We are going to be expanding our existing Dubai schools adding about 1,400- 1,500 seats on top of the 3,000 kids we already have.”
According to Abushakra, some of the population growth can be attributed to the Arab spring and tourism. “So many- well-to-do people are moving in from countries like Syria and Libya, some from Egypt and Tunisia,” he commented. “And these wealthy families tend to send their kids to private schools so the number of real international schools that has popped up in Dubai in the last eight years is more than anywhere else in the world.”
There are currently 427 international schools in the UAE teaching 370,000 students, including 230 schools in Dubai where 190,200 students attend
In ESOL’s three Dubai Schools and nurseries, Emirati students make up just 11% of the population while North American students account for 36% in their American curriculum school. Each of ESOL’s Dubai schools consists of students from 80 different countries. Abushakra expects nationality breakdown at their schools to maintain as the population expands.
The government also reports that enrolments in the 52 higher education institutions have seen “healthy growth” year on year. Currently there are more than 48,000 college students from over 60 different countries studying in the Emirate.
“There has also been a steady increase in the number of course options available, and we expect this trend to continue in coming years,” Al Karam added.