Private Education in the Absence of a Public Option — The Cases of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar

Huge population growth in Qatar and the UAE has meant rising demand for private provision of education. The authors explore the social justice consequences of this phenomenon and the potential of not-for-profit schools.

Natasha Ridge, Susan Kippels, Soha Shami
Publication Date:
Mon, 29/06/2015 - 10:14
File Size:
6.44 MB

Following significant population growth between 2000 and 2010, in part due to an influx of expatriate families, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has witnessed a huge increase in a demand for private schools. In Dubai, enrolment in private schools is nearing 90%, and in Doha the figure is still a staggering 50%.

In this study that is the first of its kind in the region, the authors examine the implications of these 'large and growing private education sectors.' Particular interest is given to for-profit schools (which form 88% of the market in the UAE and 70% in Qatar) and the lack of an alternative, public option for low-income families. The study finds that the current organisation of these schools systems continue pre-existing inequalities along socioeconomic divides in the countries, consistent with findings from other academic research. The authors also conclude that the for-profit nature of a significant portion of the private schools means that 'the profit motive dominates in the private education sector, rather than a belief in the importance of education for both the individual and society.' The negative impacts of both of these conclusions is felt by families and educators alike. The authors conclude by suggesting that non-profit providers are too few in the countries, and that this provision of education could offer 'a viable alternative for a more equitable and culturally connected community that would benefit both the individual and the society in which they are situated,' recognizing that more research needs to be done in this field.

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