Modern educational system of the UAE, which was introduced in the beginning of the 1970s, comprises a number of private and governmental educational establishments available both for male and female students. It has 4 academic levels, including primary, preparatory, secondary and higher education. The first three levels are compulsory. Governmental schools, colleges and universities are opened for the students to study for free. Currently, about 40% of educational establishments in the UAE are private (The US Department of State, 2007).
The development of the country’s educational system started in the early 1900s, when a lot of engineering schools and colleges were opened throughout the country, including the Taimia Mahmoudia (opened in 1907), Al Ahmadia (1912), Al Otaiba (1930), Al Qassemia (1935) and many others. By the early 1950s, Al Qassemia became the first systematical school, where students were provided with organized curriculum and a system of exams, and it was the first educational establishment to launch school diplomas.
In 1971, when the Emirates were united and the Ministry of Education was established, the modern era of education in the UAE has started. Several important educational reformations were implemented and a series of universities were established, including UAE University (1976), Higher Colleges of Technology (1988), Zayid University (1998) and others. In 2003, the first international education zone was opened in Dubai, which is currently a center of the country’s e-learning, development and research.
According to the US Department of State, 25% of total federal spending is directed to education (The US Department of State, 2007). As a part of the governmental plan “Education 2020”, since the beginning of the century such important structural changes took place in education, as enhancement of elementary school curriculum, introducing new English language programs, launching innovative teaching techniques focused on self-learning, opening new up-to-date educational facilities and so on.