New data reveals that the United Arab Emirates has the highest number of fee-paying English language schools outside of countries where English is the native language.
According to the UK-based International School Consultancy, the UAE has 511 English private schools, ahead of China (480), Pakistan (439), India (411) and Saudi Arabia (245).
The UAE, particularly the emirates of Dubai Abu Dhabi, has a large expat population due to a highly skilled foreign workforce.
Projected private school enrolment figures released recently in the Abu Dhabi Education Council’s Private School and Quality Assurance Sector Annual Report forecast a 7 per cent annual growth in school population, with a demand for 283,798 places in 2021.
In Dubai, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority expected the long-term enrolment growth to be about 8 per cent per year.
However, it’s not just British families who wish for their children to attend English language schools.
“There’s still a really high demand to get kids into the Foundation Stage 1 and the foundation levels of school and everyone is looking for the British curriculum,” said James Swallow, commercial director of the PRO Partner Group, which helps investors open schools and other institutions in the country. “The British international curriculum tends to be the sweet spot.”