Prince Amir Al Saud

System of Education in the Arab World

System of Education in the Arab World


Education is one of the essential factors in developing economies and wellbeing of nations. Education systems in the Arab World are far from impressive regardless of substantial increase in expenditures some Arab countries have invested during the last 20 years.


United Arab Emirates

In the UAE, Emiratis enjoy free education right from kindergarten all the way to a doctoral degree. Very few nations worldwide provide their citizens with complete education similar to what this Arab country does. The UAE government sent thousands of local students to foreign academic institutions for higher education overseas because post-secondary options in the Emirates were inadequate.


After this, it invested heavily to upgrade its system of higher education so UAE citizens can now earn university degrees in private and public institutions within the country. Private schools ensure that young people can get decent education and become adept in the English language. On the other hand, learners in public schools are quite limited in terms of studying English. Many families prefer private schools since private education is a guarantee their children will receive better edification.


The government of Abu Dhabi started to overhaul its school structure in 2010 with the Abu Dhabi Educational Council taking the lead in educational transformation. This new model envisions bilingual mentors and teachers. An estimated Dh80, 000 is spent for every student included in the program. There have been good results so far with school children in the first Cycle (Grades 1 up to 5) as parents maintain their English improved remarkably.


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s educational policy is meant to ensure that learning becomes highly efficient for its citizens. The government’s program also hopes to fulfill religious and socio-economic requirements of the nation as well as wipe out illiteracy among adults. Several government agencies are involved in planning, implementation and supervision of the overall public education platform in Saudi Arabia.

The Ministry of Education prescribes guidelines for the private and public educational system and administers special education for those with physical and mental disorders. Early in 2003 the General Presidency for Girls' Education was dissolved and its functions taken over by the Ministry, to administer the girls' schools and colleges, supervise kindergartens and nursery schools and sponsor literacy programs for females. On the other hand, the General Organization for Technical Education and Vocational Training implements and coordinates manpower development plans. This agency also manages educational training facilities. 


Despite the problems, the reformed public education system in the Kingdom resulted in significant transformations. The revised curriculum addresses the problem of repetitive teaching in public schools. The teacher has become a facilitator while lessons were packaged in a more coherent open approach that balances skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.



Qatar education is free. In public schools, students are even provided books and transportation which the government subsidizes.  The public school system of 12 years consists of six years (primary); three years (secondary); and, three years (tertiary). For the last 10 years, Qatar’s government implemented a cycle of reforms to prepare the youth for a knowledge-based economy. The other objective is to bring the country’s learning system at par with global parameters.


The major hindrance is language. Therefore, the country’s independent academic institutions and the nation’s biggest university shifted its primary language for instructions from English to Arabic. This was a turnaround from the ineffective order of the Supreme Education Council for schools to teach mathematics and science in English. One of the major issues confronting students studying in Arabic is the difficulty of being accepted in prominent international colleges and universities which were established in Qatar. The medium of instruction in these institutions is English.



There are more than 500,000 students attending Kuwaiti schools which make up roughly 30 percent of the whole population. The three levels are elementary, intermediate, and secondary with each one consisting of four years of study. Pupils in Kuwaiti schools study the English language starting in the second grade. School attendance is mandatory for all children between six and fourteen years old. Public education is free only for all Kuwaiti children. Many people send their kids to private schools. Some of foreign-sponsored institutions which are co-educational are BAYAN Bilingual School, American School of Kuwait, American International School, British School of Kuwait and French School.



The economic development program of Bahrain is anchored on six sectors. One of these sectors is education and training.  Bahrain’s educational system consists of nine years (basic education) which includes primary and intermediate stages followed by three years of secondary learning. Accelerated reforms in higher education continue with the introduction of principal strategic programs that will change the environment of higher education in Bahrain.


There are 22 Arab countries so approaches vary while problems are spread throughout different levels of education. The problems are accumulative over close to one century of educational history. Hence, an immediate and effective solution does not seem reasonable.


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