Benchmarking the performance levels of the education system
Since 2008, the UAE has participated in many international tests to examine and benchmark the performance levels of its education system. These tests include PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study). The UAE received top ranks in the Arab world in line with the National Agenda which calls for the country to rank among the top 20 in PISA by 2021.
In 2017, Ministry of Education (MoE) introduced the national-levelEmirates Standardized Test (EmSAT) test to measure pupils’ knowledge of Arabic, English, Maths and Science. EmSAT includes three types of tests:
- Baseline test: This tests measures skills and knowledge of students required for Grade 1
- Advantage test: This test tracks the development of students in Grades 4, 6, 8 and 10 during their general education
- Achieve test: This test measures the knowledge and skills of students in Grade 12 as they finish their general education and move on to higher education. This test is vital for college admission and placement.
EmSAT replaces Common Educational Proficiency Assessment (CEPA) which all state school pupils in Grade 12 were required to take as a prerequisite to entering public universities or colleges in the UAE or receiving government scholarships to study abroad.
Reforming the teaching system
The UAE has a new system for teachers licensing which is called ‘Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards (TELS UAE) and Licensing Programme’.
The professional licensing scheme for teachers was introduced in 2017 and expected to be fully implemented by 2021, in line with the requirements of the UAE National Agenda.
The system will standardise qualifications for Emirati and expatriate teachers in private and public schools.
Teachers will have to pass a national examination and show a portfolio of evidence.
The system is co-developed by National Qualifications Authority (NQA), Ministry of Education, the Department of Education and Knowledge, Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training and Institute of Applied Technology.
Read more on qualifications to be a teacher in the UAE.
The UAE’s regional support to education
The UAE hosts the Regional Center for Educational Planning (RCEP)-UNESCO which is the technical arm of the UAE’s Ministry of Education that is responsible for building individual capacities, developing human resources and disseminating knowledge in the areas of planning and policies to fulfil national priorities in line with the international best practices.
The RCEP’s governing board has adopted a strategic plan in which education in 2030 is a strategic objective with stand-alone resources. In 2016, RCEP committed to developing an educational road map for the region, by allying with national and regional organisations that foster inclusive education across the broadest spectrum of incomes and ages in the Arab world.
Inline of its 2015-2021 plan, Ministry of Education( MoE) made a major overhaul in the school education curriculum after considering the various aspects that enrich the thought and mind of students. The goal behind this overhaul is to prepare the students for the future, so that they become equipped with different skills, while instilling noble values, strengthening national identity and stimulating innovation, creativity and critical thinking in them.
Introducing two tracks for education
To prepare students for the knowledge-economy, the UAE abolished the section system based on the scientific and literary streams and replaced it with the two-track system: general education and advanced education. This step is aimed at equipping the students with skills needed to succeed in higher education and meet the needs of the job market. It also facilitates high school graduates to enrol directly in universities without having to go through a foundation year, which will be eliminated by 2018.
The new structure will prepare the students to gain direct enrollment in engineering, medical and natural sciences programmes in the UAE’s universities and overseas.
Assessing schools quality
To ensure quality education and support schools’ improvement and students’ outcomes, Ministry of Education carries on regular school inspections. Read more on the UAE’s school inspection framework (PDF).