Research Publications

Education Quality | GCC | United Arab Emirates | Al Qasimi Foundation | Knowledge Economy

Education Quality & Competitiveness in the UAE

Samar Farah
March 18, 2012

The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been able to achieve rapid economic growth over the past 40 years, which has largely been the result of revenue from vast reserves of oil and gas. However, the 21st century has seen a global shift towards establishing knowledge-based economies, through moving away from the dependence on oil to promoting business, tourism, and other economic sectors. This has changed the nature of jobs demanded by the labor market in the GCC and has resulted in a radical shift in the type of education that needed. The consequence of these changes has been an increasing disconnect between the education sector and the labor market, the impact of which is yet to be seen.

This policy paper looks beyond the quantity of education provision in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and focuses on how the quality of education can be improved in order to better contribute to economic growth and competitiveness. It first provides the context for this discussion, followed by a review of the literature on returns to education, paying particular attention the quality of education as a determinant of economic competitiveness. Next, the paper considers the case of the UAE and will address the missing link between the education system and the labor market. It concludes by offering a number of recommendations that could help policymakers improve the quality of education in the UAE in order to create a truly knowledge-based economy.

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