For the ever evolving education system, the future is looking brighter for those who are currently working in the Early Years throughout the UAE.
Over my last 12 years in the UAE, the development of Early Years Education has rapidly improved. We are now seeing many advances from governing bodies and their positive reinforcements throughout the sector to build a stronger foundation for children attending nursery and early learning centres in the UAE.
Alongside this, parents are now developing a much stronger understanding of the importance of the first years of their children’s lives, and how Early Years education can support and mould their future schooling and life skills. Parents are approaching nurseries in the hope to develop their child’s social skills but are gaining much more. The carefully planned Early Years objectives and guidelines which staffs are using to ensure children in their care are supported developmentally, is helping many children across the UAE prepare for the rigorous school assessments which children as young as 2.6 years old are attending for the next academic year.
However with this fast paced change, some nursery owners are struggling with the new regulations and costs behind running a successful and law abiding nursery here in the UAE. With costs rising and regulations adapting, small centres across the UAE are feeling the ‘pinch’ and closing their doors to hundreds of families and their children. Alongside this, nurseries have an on-going battle with some schools here in the UAE who are convincing parents to admit their child into FS1 at a young age through scaremongering tactics, giving parents the understanding that spaces are limited, and if they do not admit their child when asked, that they will miss their opportunity for a school space. Not only is this against a child–centred approach which gives priority to the child’s needs and interests in reality, the current situation is very different where there is now over 190 private schools in Dubai, some which are nowhere near capacity.
Currently, the biggest disturbance from those in my Early Years network is the understanding of guidelines provided. Being a fast-developing country, at times there are ‘missing gaps’ and centre owners/managers are bewildered with the conflicting (or lack of) information which spreads from person to person throughout the sector.
So what improvements are we seeing here in the UAE?
With the updated regulations, nurseries are now all shifting towards following similar guidelines in relation to their academics, with thorough inspections for academic planning and execution, the centres here are adapting positively to ensure their standard of education provided is of a higher quality. Not only this, due to the guidelines for staff qualifications, training and professional development their standard of safety and care is improving across the sector for all children, employees and visitors who enter their provision. The updated qualification requirements are seeing more centres providing training for their existing staff to boost their knowledge, or some are only employing experienced and qualified staff, adding to their value for paying parents and carers. But what does this mean for those who are starting off in the industry and are yet to qualify? Due to the nature of Early Years qualifications which require work experience; many nurseries are now taking on trainees as volunteers and not as paid staff members, which is making it harder for females in the industry to make money while they are studying.
With the positive signs of development in the Early Years here in the UAE, many centres being at different stages of development, the guideline set out are yet to stabilize and become clear for us all, helping the industry grow and develop together. The UAEs 5 year Education plan (completing in 2020) developed to improve the way teachers teach and children learn, has swiftly progressed in many ways and now we are all awaiting set guidelines and policies to follow and direct us through operations, inspections, licensing and the many other avenues linked to running a successful centre. For sure, the countries Education system is improving, however there is still many more years of development to go before we meet the same standards as the western world.
About the Author
Joanne began her career working in a nursery as an assistant over eight-years ago, working her way up through the industry, becoming a Teacher, Coordinator, Admin Manager, Consultant, Manager and to the present day as a Group Manager at Kids Kingdom Learning Centre UAE & India.
Joanne founded and devotes her spare time to managing ‘EYFS Professionals UAE and Oman,’ a blossoming and extremely active online community of over 3000 Early Years teachers and professionals across the UAE and Oman.