Primary Schools in UAE

Primary Schools in UAE

For parents contemplating a move to the Arabian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers a diverse and welcoming landscape. With a multitude of nationalities coexisting, the UAE provides a rich array of primary school options to explore.

This guide is your go-to resource for understanding primary schools in UAE. We will help you distinguish between public and private schools and explore the curricula they offer. Here, you will find essential information such as:

Primary Schools in UAE

The Primary Education System in the UAE

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the primary education system encompasses grades one through five, and it is compulsory for all children to begin school at the age of six.

The educational landscape in the UAE consists of government-funded public schools and private institutions, often following international curricula. While some schools exclusively focus on primary education, many provide a comprehensive educational journey from kindergarten through secondary levels, ensuring a seamless continuum of learning.

Public Primary Schools in UAE

As of 2017, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) boasted a total of 639 public primary schools, alongside 580 private educational institutions. Interestingly, only a relatively small portion of students, constituting 26%, opted for public school education. Public schools in the UAE are tuition-free for Emirati citizens, while expatriates are welcome to enroll for a fee. Nevertheless, some factors within the education system can pose accessibility challenges for expatriate students.

The Curriculum in State Primary Schools in UAE

In public primary schools in UAE, students follow a curriculum that includes several subjects:

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social studies
  • Islamic studies
  • Arabic language
  • Depending on the school, they may also learn English.

One important thing to note is that, like many of its neighboring countries, Friday is considered the Holy Day in the UAE. So, the school week typically runs from Sunday to Thursday. Public schools in the UAE usually use a trimester system and provide students with a winter break in December, a spring break in late March, and a summer break. The Ministry of Education publishes the school calendar for both public and private schools online.

Class sizes in public primary schools in the UAE can vary from 20 to 35 students, depending on the location and available teaching staff. Physical education is a part of the weekly schedule in primary schools, but sometimes it faces challenges as teachers work hard to meet academic requirements.

Pros and Cons of Public Schools in UAE

For expatriates seeking lower education costs compared to private schools and desiring a more immersive experience in UAE culture and society for their children, enrolling them in public schools can be an appealing choice. This provides an opportunity for your child to form genuine connections with Emirati peers and break away from the expatriate community during the school day.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that government schools are sometimes known for being less disciplined, less organized, and academically weaker than their private counterparts. They are typically segregated by gender and primarily conduct classes in Arabic, so your child must be ready to embrace these circumstances. Another consideration is that validating a public school education for further studies in their home country may pose additional challenges if your child decides to return for university.

Like Primary Schools in UAE, you may also like to read about Education System in the UAE.

Applying to Government Primary Schools in UAE

When applying to a government primary school in UAE, the process typically involves contacting your local Education Council to express your intent to enroll your child. They may request you to complete an application and provide various supporting documents, including residence permits, passports, rental agreements, and any previous academic records. In some cases, there may be a requirement to take an Arabic language assessment as well.

Private Schools in UAE

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the majority of students opt for private education, providing expatriate parents with a wealth of choices. Many private schools are closely linked to the educational curriculum of specific countries.

Distinctions between public and private schools are noteworthy. Some private schools are known for their higher academic standards compared to public schools, and many conduct instruction entirely in a specific language, such as English or German. Depending on the school’s educational approach, private institutions typically cover subjects like mathematics, science, social studies, and foreign languages, along with offering various elective courses.

It’s important to note that private schools often have extensive waiting lists and come with varying price tags, with tuition ranging from AED 2,000 to AED 96,000.

Primary Schools in UAE

Private School Curricula in UAE

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a diverse array of private schools caters to a wide range of educational requirements. Here are some examples of the various private schools available:

International Baccalaureate Schools

International Baccalaureate schools provide a well-structured program known for focusing on essay writing, the theory of knowledge, and project-based learning that combines creativity, physical activity, and community service. Students take classes in subjects like science, the arts, mathematics, language, and literature.

British International Schools

British international schools follow the educational curriculum of the United Kingdom. They prepare students for a seamless transition to further studies in the UK or other Commonwealth countries. Students typically study in English and take courses in subjects such as mathematics, science, social studies, English language and literature, and a foreign language.

International schools in UAE

The UAE hosts a wide array of international schools, many of which closely mirror the educational systems of specific countries. These schools are abundant throughout the Emirates, with a significant concentration in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. They encompass a variety of nationalities, including French, German, Indian, Japanese, Filipino, and more.

In certain international schools, the student population predominantly consists of children from the respective country, creating a cultural connection for them while they are away from their homeland. Tuition fees can vary significantly based on the institution, ranging from AED 3,000 to 70,000.

Pros and Cons of International Schools in the UAE

Enrolling in an international school can offer numerous advantages, providing students with exposure to diverse cultures in a supportive environment, especially if they are away from their home country. International schools can also help maintain a student’s academic progress, making it easier for them to reintegrate into their home country’s educational system upon their return.

However, it’s essential to consider some challenges too. International schools often have long waiting lists and come with high tuition fees. Students at international schools may have limited opportunities to immerse themselves in Emirati culture. Therefore, making the right choice involves a family discussion, considering your child’s educational philosophy, the curriculum, and your family’s budget. Reflect on these factors before making a decision.


Primary Schools in UAE play a fundamental role in laying the educational foundation for young learners. These primary schools in UAE provide a nurturing environment where children embark on their academic journey, fostering a love for learning and building essential skills.

The significance of Primary Schools in UAE is evident in their commitment to shaping well-rounded individuals. Through tailored curricula and supportive teaching methods, primary schools in UAE create a positive and engaging learning experience for students.

In conclusion, Primary Schools in UAE serve as crucial pillars in the educational system, equipping young minds with the knowledge and skills essential for their future endeavors. The emphasis on quality education in these primary schools contributes to the overall development of students, preparing them for the challenges of higher education and beyond. As Primary Schools in UAE continue to prioritize excellence, they play a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of leaders and contributors to society.