Education System in UAE: Overview

  • ACIO
  • November 24, 2023

Back in 1970, education was only available in the UAE’s urban areas, due to which students needed to move abroad for studies. With the development of the United Arab Emirates, an effective education system was established. Currently, the country strives to ensure comprehensive and equitable quality education to encourage lifelong learning opportunities for all. Making “quality education” accessible for everyone is listed as UAE’s sustainable development goal number four. Here we will present an overview of the UAE education system and CBSE curriculum UAE.

Education System in UAE:

  • The UAE education system is divided into three sectors – private schools, public schools (government schools), and higher educational institutions.
  • Furthermore, for schools, the UAE education system is divided into four tiers…
Stage Grade Age
Kindergarten KG 1 and KG 2 4–5 years old
Primary School 1st – 6th 6–11 years old
Preparatory Stage 7th – 9th 12–14 years old
Secondary School 10th –12th 15–17 years old

Public Schools in UAE:

  • The public schools or government schools are run by the UAE government where the education for UAE nationality children is provided and paid for by the state itself.
  • Most public schools are gender-segregated and follow the Arabic curriculum with English as a second language.
  • Primary and secondary education is free and compulsory for all students (boys & girls) in public schools.

Below we present the proportion of students in UAE by curriculum. The chart depicts that the Indian Curriculum is the second most preferred curriculum among UAE students.

Student Proportion year wise: KHDA
Source: KHDA

Private Schools in UAE:

  • Private schools are open for both UAE nationality students and expatriates (residents) students.
  • Private schools follow 15 different curriculums, including American, British, Indian, the UAE Ministry of Education Curriculum, International Baccalaureate (IB), Russian, Japanese, Iranian, French, Pakistani, Filipino, SABIS, IAT, German, and Canadian.
  • British, American, Ministry of Education (MoE), and the Indian – CBSE curriculum UAE are the most popular curriculums catering to almost 90% of the population of private schools in UAE.
  • Arabic language classes are compulsory for all the curricula.
  • In UAE, private school education is prevalent among Emirati students, as more than 50% of Emirati students attend private schools with various curricula.

Higher Education in UAE:

There are two sectors for higher education in UAE: public and private. Many Emiratis obtain free higher education from public universities. Students can pursue an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, a Doctoral degree, or vocational courses in the United Arab Emirates.

CBSE Based Education System in UAE:

CBSE stands for Central Board of Secondary Education and is the front-runner education board established & run by the Government of India. It is the most preferred curriculum for Indian expatriates in UAE. Currently, there are 79 CBSE-affiliated schools in the UAE.

Like in India, CBSE is responsible for conducting two board examinations every year for grades 10th & 12th, prescribing exam conditions, patterns, and duration, and issuing qualifying certificates to all qualified candidates via schools in UAE.

The two examinations conducted by CBSE are AISSE (All India Secondary School Examination) for grade 10th & AISSCE (All India Senior School Certificate Examination) for grade 12th.

As a part of CBSE’s recently-introduced Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) program, the board administers the AISSE during March and April.


The AISSE Completion Certificate, Marksheet, and Migration Certificate are given to successful candidates to continue their future education.

The exam covers five subjects, including English, a Language (Native or Foreign), Sciences, Mathematics, and Social Sciences, each contributing 100 marks, totalling 500 marks. The score helps students determine their stream – Science, Vocational, Humanity or Commerce.


The All India Senior School Certificate Examination is a higher qualification exam pursued by CBSE students. AISSCE scores are accessed by Universities while deciding whether or not to admit students to various degree programs.

CBSE Syllabus UAE:

All the CBSE-affiliated schools in UAE are instructed to follow the prescribed NCERT syllabus.

CBSE students are eligible to appear for various national and international Olympiads, and Science stream students are eligible for competitive exams like JEE (Mains + Advanced) & NEET-UG. Upon successful qualification, based on their marks & cut-offs, they can pursue higher studies in reputed institutes, universities, and colleges of their choice across India and abroad. Both NEET and JEE exams have examination centres in UAE for students to take exams near their homes.

Also, as the Indian Government has decided to open the first international IIT in Abu Dhabi, UAE, it will be beneficial for the students of the Indian diaspora to study in top-notch institutes without moving away from their home locations.

The education system in UAE indicates the popularity of the CBSE-based Indian curriculum. For NRI students residing in UAE and preparing for various competitive exams like IIT-JEE, NEET-UG, and OlympiadsALLEN Overseas is the leading coaching institute that provides 360-degree support to its students in their journey towards success. With our physical and hybrid classroom program centres, you can start your academic journey towards excellence near your home locations. For any queries, comments, or doubts, get in touch with us, and we’ll gladly assist you.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What percentage of UAE’s population is educated?

A: Last measured, the UAE literacy rate was 95.53% in 2019.

Q: Is homework banned in UAE?

A: Yes, to grant students more time for their families and extracurricular activities and help them make the most of their school time, the UAE Education Ministry abolished homework in public schools of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Q: What are the school timings in UAE?

A: School timings vary depending on the school, curriculum and grade, but the general timings are between 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM, Monday to Thursday. On Friday, schools cannot finish later than 12 Noon, and there’ll be off on Saturday and Sunday.

Q: How long is the summer break in UAE?

A: Most schools offer 6-8 weeks of summer holidays in UAE.

Q: Are phones allowed in UAE schools?

A: Some schools allow cell phones for security, while others strictly prohibit them. That depends on the school.

Q: Are NRI or Indian diaspora students allowed to enrol in public schools in UAE?

A: Yes, expat students can enrol in public schools in UAE against certain fees and merit-based approval.

Q: Are the board exam paper is same for Indian and NRI students residing in UAE?

A: No, though the paper pattern, marking scheme, exam syllabus and difficulty level is same, CBSE provides a different set of question papers for NRI/ Overseas students.

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