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SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
EDUCATION AND YOUTH

Education is considered to be a key element in promoting the necessary skills for social and economic development. Free education is provided for all UAE citizens. The existing educational structure, which was established in the early 1970s, is a four-tier system covering 14 years of education: kindergarten (4–5 years old); primary (6–11 years); intermediate (12–14 years); and secondary (15–17 years).
Primary school education is compulsory for all UAE citizens. Government policy is to provide staff/student ratios of 1:20 at kindergarten and primary levels; and 1:15 at intermediate and secondary levels. The existing staff/ student ratios are well within this proposed range. (The staff/student ratio of kindergarten and primary levels is 1:17; intermediate and secondary levels is 1:10.)
The total number of students at primary and secondary level in public and private schools reached 563,461 in 1998 from 480,973 in 1995, an increase of 4 per cent per year. Teaching and administrative staff rose to 43,510 in 1999 from 37,425 in 1995, while the number of schools increased to 1085 from 901 for the same period. The percentage of national students in government schools stood at 67 per cent in the academic year 1994–1995, but went down to 66.6 per cent in 1998–1999, compared with 33.7 per cent for expatriate students. The number of female students increased by 3 per cent, whilst the figure was 2.6 per cent for male students. The number of students in government schools rose to 310,563 in 1998–1999 from 291,143 in 1994–1995. The number of private schools had risen to 398 in 1998–1999 from 365 in 1994–1995, with male and female students increasing by 19 per cent from 189,830 to 225,898 and teaching staff from 12,659 to 16,416. National students registered with private schools accounted for 11 per cent in 1995–1996.

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