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The education system in the United Arab Emirates is a relatively well-performing institution. The current formal schooling system began with the union of the previously independent emirates, to form a single country. The union enabled the new country to generate wealth to support a new advanced learning environment. In the beginning of the revolution in the education sector, the government founded the United Arab Emirates University in Abu Dhabi. At the same time, the government established a ministry dedicated to education. The event marked the beginning of the provision of high quality education to the citizens of the country. The University of the United Arab Emirates, which was the first institution of higher learning, was founded in 1977, and has modernised its facilities and improved its standards to above average since then (Gaad, 2011). Recently, the country has increased the number of public institutions of higher learning to three through the creation of the University of Zayed and the Higher Colleges of Technology. All the higher learning institutions in the United Arab Emirates have a higher proportion of female students as compared to the male ones. This is a peculiar characteristic, particularly for an Islamic country. Several other private institutions also offer higher education (Augustin, 2002).
In the UAE, the level of illiteracy among adults is below ten percents of the population. Throughout the 1990s, the UAE established adult education centres throughout the country in an effort to eradicate poverty. Special attention is directed towards adult illiterate women and children with special needs, such as those with disabilities and impaired intelligence (Baker, 2005). The government policy is that all children should obtain equal education opportunities. In this regard, it ensures that children with special needs do not drop out of school due to the hiking of fees by school administration to cater for their special needs. Moreover, the government is in the process of establishing learning facilities for disabled children in every school. Currently, several schools have undergone a transformation into learning centres for children with special needs (Gokulan, 2012).
The provision of elementary education in UAE is considerably appropriate. The policy for basic education dictates that all children must attend school up to the ninth grade. The first six years of schooling are the primary education. During this period, learning process is realised in segregated schools. However, the rate of enrolment is high. Over 90 percent of the population acquires the primary education. Despite the high proportion of individuals undertaking primary education, enrolment in the secondary education is relatively dismal with less than 70 percent completing their secondary education (Wand, 2010).
When Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan ascended to power in 1971, he set on modernizing the newly formed federation. Among his major agendas was the provision of education for all. Despite his Islamic background, the prince had a moderate and rational approach. He endeavored to provide education for both women and men, and instituted true liberalism. A formal system of education facilitated the country’s education system transformation into a remarkable internationally acknowledged institution. The royal prince set precedence for the current cosmopolitan education system, which cooperates with foreign and international universities in the provision of quality education (Kirk, 2010).
The UAE government is impartial in implementing policies. Notably, its efforts in developing a quality education system for people with special needs are prominent. Above all, the equality between men and women in all education sectors is eminent. Although a greater percentage of males than females are educated, only a minimal margin exists between the figures. This margin results from the population imbalance between men and women. At all stages of education in the country, the number of women attending school is higher than the number of men.