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Schools in Dubai – What to Know Before Enrolling Your Child

Kish here to talk about the schools in Dubai.

Sunil and I do not have kids yet (as of when I am writing this page), but I attended Dubai schools growing up and have several close friends whose children are beginning to attend school.

Planning to move and live in Dubai with your entire family is already a big decision in itself, and choosing the right school for your children is even harder.

As a parent you have to do your own research either by asking around or browsing the net to find out about the system of education, and quality and availability of schools in Dubai.

Fortunately, since there are a large number of expatriates living in Dubai, there are a lot of primary and secondary schools to choose from.

Ask your friends, colleagues, and expats who live in Dubai about a particular school’s reputation.

Most schools have their own website which you can browse to check about their curriculum, tuition fees, and extra curricular activities.

I simply want to give you a brief overview before you dig into the details.

You should be aware of a few restrictions if you intend to enroll your child in Dubai schools. One rule is that you are not allowed to transfer your child to another school during the academic year unless the Ministry of education gives its approval. That is why you have to take careful consideration in choosing a school to make sure that it suits your child.

Another thing to remember is that if you move to Dubai on or after the first day of May, you cannot enroll your child for that academic year. You will have to wait until the beginning of the new school year which is around early September.

Dubai has a wide-ranging education sector, with numerous public and private schools. Through its public school system, the Dubai government provides free education from kindergarten to college and around 40% of children attend private schools. Full-time education is required for children ages five and up and for all primary and secondary schools in Dubai.

There are many nursery schools in Dubai. Most of these nurseries adapt the Montessori Method of teaching and use English as the language of instruction. They allow children from two years old onwards to enroll, while some take children as young as 18 months. Unfortunately, most nurseries only run for 4-5 hours, usually from 8am to 12pm. Tuition fees range from 3,000-12,000 Dirhams per year (approximately $3,500 USD per year at most).

Most English-speaking kindergartens in Dubai are located at Jumeirah and Umm Suquiem areas. A lot of Dubai’s private primary schools also offer kindergarten. Children are usually taught music, religion, art, Arabic, English, and math, as well as other children’s activities. The average fee for kindergarten is around 10,000 Dirhams annually.

For the primary level, some schools conduct entrance examinations and most of the prestigious schools have long waiting lists. British schools start in September while all other schools start their term in April. During July and August, all schools are closed for the holidays.

School uniforms are compulsory in most schools, and are similar to European and American schools. English is the medium of instruction in a lot of schools, but there are some schools which teach their students foreign languages like French, Hindi, and even Russian. There are also a number of schools which offer foreign curriculums such as the Japanese system or the British National Curriculum. The tuition fee is 3,000 Dirhams on the average.

Dubai has a lot of international high schools which cater to expatriates as well as dwelling citizens. They have a wide range of curriculums such as the Indian central Board of Secondary Education and the International General Certificate of Secondary education. The required subjects in most schools are social studies, math, religion, physical education, and Arabic.

The students can choose subjects depending on their school education system such as languages, science, history, computer studies, and sociology. Expect to pony up to 25,000 Dirhams for a secondary private school education for your child.

A lot of expatriates send back their children to their home country for their college education. However, a lot of foreign accredited universities have established in the city in the last 10 years. Most of the colleges and universities are affiliated to prestigious institutions abroad such as Harvard Medical School Dubai center, Michigan State University, and the American University of Dubai.

The most important thing is that you know what to expect from the curriculum of schools in Dubai. The next step is to choose which school suits your child best to ensure that he or she gets the most of their learning experience.

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