Education is a fundamental right of citizens and expatriate residents in the UAE. Federal Decree Law No. 39 of 2022 on Compulsory Education (available in Arabic) obligates the parent or the legal guardian to send their children to school.
- For UAE citizens, education is mandatory from primary school until the completion of their schooling.
- For Expatriate residents, education is mandatory until they finish the primary stage.
The responsibility of providing education rests with the child's parent or the legal guardian.
The UAE provides free education to its citizens at all levels in the UAE.
Responsibilities of the parent/legal guardian
The responsibilities of the child's parent or legal guardian include:
- enrolling the child in an educational institution upon reaching the specified age at the beginning of the school year
- providing the necessary valid identification documents essential for the child's enrolment
- monitoring the child's academic progress and behaviour
- ensuring the inclusion of children of determination (children with disabilities) in the educational system.
The parent or legal guardian is exempted from enrolling the child in a school if:
- the child suffers from a disease or disability that impedes his/her ability to study
- a situation arises for the child or the parent/guardian preventing enrolment or completion of the child's education
- the child's registration from any educational institution was terminated.
Failure to enrol the child in school or adhere to the compulsory education period will result in a written warning from Ministry of Education (MoE) or one of the other educational authorities, within five working days from the date of non-enrolment or non-adherence.
If the violation continues for more than 10 working days after the written warning, MoE or the educational authority must report the matter to the Public Prosecution.
Failing to enrol the child in school, the parent or the legal guardian will face imprisonment and/or a fine ranging from AED 2,000 to AED 50,000. The court will also obligate the parent or the legal guardian to enrol the child within a period it determines.
Continuation of the obligatory education stage
According to Article 14 of Ministerial Decree No. 820 of 2014 on Registration Terms for Students, the student's parent must write a personal commitment to the school stating that he is aware of the rules of the Obligatory Education Law and any other resolutions issued in this regard and that he undertakes to send his children to school during this 'Obligatory Education Stage'.
The right of children to education
Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 Concerning Child Rights, also known as Wadeema's Law (PDF, 250 KB), every child has the right to education, and it is illegal to not put your child in a school or leave him without education during the compulsory education stage, without due reason.
The UAE government will work on achieving equal academic opportunities for every child and will take necessary measures to:
- prevent children from missing school
- promote the participation of children and their parents in the decisions related to children
- ban all forms of violence in educational institutions
- develop the educational system, including kindergartens, and achieve the development of every child in the mental, physical, emotional, social and moral aspects
- set special programmes for reporting violations on the educational rights of the children.
Read more about child rights to education and protection in Chapters 7 and 8 of Wadeema's law.
Literacy Challenge in the Arab World - 2030
The Literacy Challenge in the Arab World initiative seeks to benefit 30 million Arab youths and children by the year 2030.
The initiative was launched by H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in 2017 ahead of the opening session of the Knowledge Summit 2017 in Dubai.
The initiative is organised in collaboration with the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
National Innovation Strategy
In 2014, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the National Innovation Strategy that aims to make the UAE among the most innovative nations in the world within seven years. The strategy targets seven sectors; one of which is education.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund to Finance Innovation
In November 2015, Sheikh Mohammed launched this fund with a value of AED2 billion, which is a federal initiative designed to provide financing solutions for innovators across various sectors within the UAE. Priority will go to renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space sectors, and applicants must provide a business development plan to be eligible for funding.
National Literacy Strategy
Following the announcement of 2016 as the Year of Reading, the Cabinet issued directives to prepare an integrated National Literacy Strategy and a framework to produce a reading generation. The national literacy strategy aims to ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.
Ministry of Education launched initiatives aiming to upgrade the education standards in the UAE according to the best international practices. These initiatives include:
- School Leadership Development Project (SLP)
- School Olympic Games Project
- School Health Education Project
- School health screening
- Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards
- Emirates Standardized Test (EmSAT).
National online brainstorming session and Cabinet retreat in 2013
In December 2013, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai called upon the nation to send ideas and suggestions through various online channels to improve the health and education sectors.
After the online brainstorming session, the UAE Cabinet undertook a retreat for two consecutive days in informal settings to analyse the ideas and suggestions and discuss further related issues. The retreat, held on Sir Bani Yas island, resulted in endorsing some initiatives and ideas on overhauling the education system and development of teachers.
Use of technology in teaching and learning
Read about the UAE's efforts to incorporate technology in education.
Updated on 06 Dec 2023