Find out all you need to know about schools and the education system in Dubai in this article.
Dubai, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city known for its towering skyscrapers, luxurious lifestyle, and multicultural environment, is also renowned for its thriving education sector. With a sizable expatriate community representing 89% of the population, Dubai has become a hub for international schools that provide a world-class education to students from diverse backgrounds.
In this article, we will explore the educational landscape of Dubai, the benefits of studying in international schools, and the unique features that make Dubai an educational destination of choice.
Dubai’s education system is well-developed and offers a wide range of options for students at all levels. Public schools provide education primarily to Emirati citizens, while private and international schools cater to both expatriate and Emirati students. The curriculum varies depending on the type of school, with options such as British, American, IB, and Indian curricula.
The government of Dubai has made significant efforts to ensure that every child has access to education. As part of this commitment, public schools provide education free of charge to Emirati citizens. Expat children can also attend public schools but are required to pay a fee.
They primarily use Arabic in their curriculum, textbooks, and classroom instruction, however, English is also used and taught to ensure that students are proficient in both languages. This bilingual approach helps students develop strong language skills in Arabic and English, which are both widely used in various sectors in Dubai.
For expats looking to enrol their children in public schools, they are required to apply with these supporting documents:
Dubai's international school system caters primarily to the expatriate community. These schools provide an excellent opportunity for expat children to receive education in their native language or follow a curriculum that is familiar to them. The multicultural environment of international schools also allows students to interact with peers from different backgrounds, fostering a global perspective and cultural understanding.
Enrolment into top international schools is usually over-subscribed for the next 3 to 4 years, especially for primary schools. Hence, for those planning to move to Dubai and enrol their children into international schools, it is highly recommended to start applying as soon as possible. Most international schools publish their admission and application procedures on their websites, so it is possible to start applying from abroad.
Visit the websites of international schools in Dubai to learn about their curricula, admission processes, and contact information.
Seek advice from other expatriate families who have already gone through the process of enrolling their children in international schools in Dubai.
If possible, attend education fairs and events to gather information and meet with representatives from different international schools.
Consult with relocation experts or agencies that specialise in assisting expatriate families with the school enrolment process.
International schools in Dubai are regulated and inspected by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) to ensure they are up to standard in terms of growth, direction, and quality. Schools in Dubai are rated based on the following ranking:
Outstanding: An exceptionally high quality of performance or practice
Very Good: Quality of performance exceeds
Good: The expected level of quality for every school
Average: The minimum level of acceptability required
Weak: Quality not yet at the level acceptable
The following lists 5 schools ranked Outstanding according to the 2023 KHDA Dubai Schools Rating and their corresponding school fees, from the highest to lowest.
Average Fees (AED)
Kings’ School Al Barsha
GEMS Dubai American Academy
In Dubai, special needs education has emerged as a top priority, with approximately 20% of children requiring special educational support. 42% of schools in Dubai have opened their doors to children with special needs. Recognising the significance of providing high-quality education to all students, including those with disabilities, the government has taken substantial measures to establish inclusive learning environments.
KHDA has also incorporated provisions for special needs children in their Inspection Handbook, which outlines a comprehensive framework aimed at enhancing their educational progress.
International schools in Dubai are expensive and fees can vary greatly depending on the curriculum, reputation of the school, and grade level of the student. For example, kindergarten fees may start as low as 3,000 AED but can increase up to 90,000 AED for later high school grades, especially at prestigious British or American curriculum schools. To help make international schools accessible, some top-tier institutions provide financial assistance in the form of merit or needs-based scholarships.
Checking a school's accreditation status gives parents assurance that the school curriculum, assessment practices and qualifications obtained will be recognised internationally. This is important as many families are globally mobile. Accreditation from KHDA and global bodies demonstrates the school adheres to best practices and can smoothly transfer credits and grades if the student needs to attend school elsewhere.
Check the school you are planning to enrol your child into can process a student visa. Most schools in Dubai should be able to do so.
The location of the school is an important practical consideration. Consider factors, such as proximity to your home or workplace, transportation options, and the surrounding community. A conveniently located school can reduce commuting time and provide ease of access for both you and your child.
The annual enrolment and graduation rates give you insights into the stability and popularity of the school. High enrolment rates indicate that the school is in demand and trusted by parents, while high graduation rates suggest that students are successful in completing their education at the school.
For older students who are preparing for higher education or entering the workforce, it's worth considering the school's track record in terms of internships and employment opportunities. Find out if the school has established partnerships with local businesses, industries, or universities that offer internships or job placement programs. A school that actively supports students in gaining practical experience and achieving career success can provide valuable opportunities for their future.
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