Stages of school education
The Ministry of Education applies the following stages and cycles for education K-12 in the government schools.
Kindergarten (4-5 years)
Kindergarten in the UAE is voluntary and accommodates children who are below the age of admission to the first grade. Kindergarten consists of two levels, where children attend two years of mixed-gender classes:
- Kindergarten 1 (KG1)
- Kindergarten 2 (KG2)
This level prepares the children to be successful in primary level or (Cycle 1) and beyond. KG students spend their time developing social, language, physical and academic skills.
In 2018, Ministry of Education amended the number of school grades in each stage cycle which will be effective from the academic year 2018-2019. Each school stage will have four grades instead of six as it was before in government schools.
Basic level: primary or elementary level/Cycle1
In this level, children complete Grades 1 to 4. This level provides a rich learning environment to inspire this age group as they begin their educational journey.
Intermediate level/Cycle 2
In this level, children complete Grades 6 to 8. This level aims to nurture young students for the future and help them become fully-developed members of society.
Secondary level/Cycle 3
In this level, students complete Grades 9 to 12. In this level, students are prepared for the starting point in their career and place in the society.
Once completing this level, the student will be granted a high school certificate, which indicates passing 12 years of compulsory education. Students who attended the technical secondary school will be awarded the technical secondary diploma upon completing this level.
Educational streams in public schools
Prior to 2015, students chose either the scientific or the literary stream. However, MoE abolished this system and instead introduced four streams:
All students will begin from Grade one in the general stream of learning. Depending on each student’s desire and performance, a student will be readmitted into a specific stream at a certain grade.
After finishing Grade 8, a student can choose to join the Professional stream (Vocational stream), where he will continue studying Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 and will obtain an applied high school certificate which is equivalent to technical high school certificate. The professional (vocational track) follows a practical curriculum for education. Learning is based on applying knowledge and developing students’ practical skills.
After finishing Grade 9 and depending on their performance, students can choose either to remain in the general stream or to join the advanced stream. In both, general and advanced streams students will continue Grades 10, 11 and 12.
The key difference between the general stream and the advanced stream is the range of scientific subjects. Students in the advanced track will receive more in-depth instruction in maths and sciences than those in the general track.
The elite stream is developed for academically outstanding students. The stream will admit students from Grade 6 until they finish Grade 12. Elite curriculum focuses on mathematics and science in a way that enhances the skills in analysis, reasoning and problem-solving.
The Emirati School Matrix 2020-2021- Ministry of Education (PDF,in Arabic only)