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In search of good education:why Emirati parents choose private schools in Dubai

Kaltham Salem Kenaid

The purpose of this research project study is to reach out to Emirati parents in order to understand their perception of private education in Dubai.

In Dubai, there is an increasing trend for Emirati parents to choose private schools for their children. This trend has been gaining momentum from the beginning of the new millennium. Dubai is unique amongst education systems around the world in that a very high proportion of its student population (87%) attends private schools. These schools have been established to service the demand for expatriate families to educate their children. Although public schools providing a free education are available, more than half of Emirati parents choose to send their children to a private school.

Data collected from the 2010-2011 annual school census indicate that 28,983 Emirati students attend a private school in Dubai. From 2003 to 2010, the number of Emirati students in government schools plunged by 15% while in private schools it has increased by more than 75% (see figure 1). Annual data also point to the fact that two thirds of Emirati students (22,141) go to just 22 private schools out of the 148 private schools in Dubai.

The purpose of this research project study is to reach out to Emirati parents in order to understand their perception of private education in Dubai. Such insights will provide a better understanding of the circumstances that lead to parents’ decisions with regard to school choices