You’ve landed a new job in the Middle East – Dubai, perhaps? — and the whole family is over the moon about the impending move to this new, exciting part of the world.Your mind starts reeling with everything you need to do to prepare for this monumental change – learn about the culture and the weather, find a place to live, and maybe even start learning Arabic, so you fit in and feel more at home in your new city.Then something equally important hits you: how do you choose a school for your child whenyou’re still thousands of miles away from your new neighbourhood?It’s not as though you can take a tour of half a dozen schools six months in advance and take your time mulling over which one is the best. Or is it indeed possible to do just that? Ideally, that’s precisely what you should do!A quick trip to the region you’ll be living in, for the express purpose of choosing a school, is the best way to feel confident about the place that’s going to educate your child. But we know ideal circumstances aren’t always part of life. Therefore, we want to give you some information about, and insight into, choosing a school in the Middle East.Availability of a spot for your child depends in part on the area you are moving to; in terms of the number of English language, international schools, the United Arab Emirates is the leader, with (according to the most recent statistics) 627 institutions of this type. More than 600,000 expats’ children are enrolled in these schools as of 2019, and most are in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Currently, there is a surplus of spaces, and getting your child set up in school shouldn’t present too many hurdles.Saudi Arabia also has many international schools and is planning to establish hundreds more by 2030, keeping with the Kingdom’s policies on education and services for expats. According to ISC Research, in total, there are more than 1,500 English language international schools across the Middle East.Those are the statistics and the numbers. But how do you go about choosing a new school foryour child when you’re still living thousands of miles away?We’ve got some ideas and strategies you should pursue well before your actual move, so you are well equipped with information that helps you make the best decision possible for your child.
- How Much Does It Cost?
Like private education anywhere, fees for international schools in the Middle East vary widely. In Manama, for example, there is a school that charges approximately $1,000 (USD) per year. More commonly, however, school fees run into the tens of thousands, so you must be realistic about which one your family can afford. In Dubai, fees run up to $25,000 per year at some schools.Remember, international education is a relatively recent model in the Middle East (the first was established in the mid-1970s). Still, the schools are accredited with global bodies, ensuring that your child’s diploma is equivalent to one earned in America or the U.K. (To further explore costs by region and city. Please visit International Schools Database ).And while the schools seem quite new compared to institutions like Eton in Britain, and others in America and even Canada, in reality, educators in the Middle East have largely received excellent marks for the quality of education they offer and the rigorous standards of the international schools.The British School Of Abu Dhabi, for example, was just founded in 2009, yet in that relatively short period has become a leader in the region, for its academics but also its diverse student body, with more than 80 nationalities represented throughout all grades.
Two School Profiles:
Here’s a look at two English medium international schools, one in Dubai and one in Qatar.These will give you a comprehensive look at how most international schools function – the classes, the clubs, and more.
1- Kent College Dubai:
This college was established in 2016, but it has more than 100 years of educational experience behind it in the form of its sister college in the U.K., Kent College Canterbury.The school is for a wide range of students, aged three to 18, and focuses on a broad-ranging curriculum based on the British model. Furthermore, its leaders advance holisticeducation by encouraging students to join clubs, teams and other scholastic and extra-curricular endeavours.This approach helps them develop life skills, team-building skills and fosters cooperative group work and critical thinking. Because of this approach, this school has earned a sterling reputation among global educators and expats.
2- International School Of London Qatar:
This school was established in 2008 and has students in all grades, from primary to senior. It is praised for keeping the teacher-to-student ratio of classes small, approximately 20 students for every faculty member.There are currently more than 80 nationalities among the student body, and more than 40 represented among the staff. Costs here vary, depending on the grade, but for seniors in grade 11, annual fees run upwards of 75,000 Qatari Riyals.
Other Schools In Other Middle Eastern Countries:
As we noted earlier, there are approximately 1,500 international English medium schools across the Middle East. And more and more are being built, as some places, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, now allow citizens to enrol their children in international schools if they wish. Once you know for certain where you will be residing, start searching the Internet for schools in the area, decide what matters most to you in terms of curriculum (arts and music; sports; languages?) and zero in on schools by using those “wish list” criteria.Each country has a governing body that decides the goals and mandates for education, andinternational bodies, like International Baccalaureate Organization, can be helpful with yoursearch, as well.No matter where you and your family are preparing to settle in the Middle East, the school youchoose is perhaps the single most important decision you’ll make, at least in terms of whether the relocation will go well, and smoothly, for your child.Nothing can replace actually touring schools yourself, as parents, meeting faculty and staff face to face, and seeing the facilities “live,” so to speak.But doing a lot of investigation beforehand goes a long way toward making the right choice since sometimes it is impossible to visit the region before your move. But international schools in the Middle East have received excellent reviews from all sides – from educators who work in the system, from expats who enroll their children in these schools, and – perhaps most importantly – from graduates themselves.We live in a world that is, in certain profound respects, a village, and preparing our children forthe “global village” is the responsibility of all parents.If you seize the opportunity to work in The Middle East and expose your child to a myriad of new cultures and customs, you undoubtedly want to continue their education in the best setting possible. International schools in the Middle East offer you that opportunity!