Are there homeschoolers in the UAE?
Is it legal?
For UAE nationals, the Ministry of Education requires that students attend school through at least the age of 16. Families can home-school using the UAE National Curriculum. Curriculum materials and support can be obtained by visiting the education authority in the Emirate of residence. Emirati students can also enroll in licensed, accredited distance learning programs with the approval of their local education authority. Arabic language and Islamic studies must be included in their schoolwork.
For expats, the Ministry of Education does not recognize, and as such, does not regulate homeschooling. The KHDA (Dubai) strongly recommends expatriates who choose to home-school utilize curriculum that is licensed and accredited in their home country.
Where to register?
Nowhere. As the Ministry of Education does not recognize homeschooling, there are no procedures in place. It is not required to register with the MoE, undergo inspections, or submit progress reports.
Can previously home-schooled children return to school in Dubai?
As home-schooling is not recognized by the Ministry of Education, schools are not obligated to accept home educated students. It is not impossible, but the process seems to vary by school. Some schools refuse, point blank, to admit any home-schooled children, others require all students to pass an assessment test, and have admitted home-schooled children who passed that assessment.
So what is the process to get a child into a Brick & Mortar School if they have been home-schooled?
Please note, this information in no way describes a policy of the KHDA or UAE MoE, this is just a guidance provided by former members whose children have successfully returned to school following home-schooling.
Once you have found a school that is willing to accept your child, put together the following package of paperwork.
1. Passport Copy with visa or birth certificate – a copy for each child
2. No objection letter from the school addressed to KHDA – It may be easier to draft a letter on behalf of the school that tells the KHDA that they have no objection to letting X student enroll in school and then simply have the school principal sign/ stamp it.
3. No objection letter from the parents addressed to KHDA – Simply draft a letter that tells the KHDA that you have no objection to your student going to X school.
4. A copy of transfer certificate (last report) if you have one – this is one area which is a little tricky. You can submit copies of any previous school reports or you may want to use a service which reviews your child’s work and issues a report card.
5. Copy of the assessment report (placement exam) – this is what the school will provide based on the assessment / interview that takes place.
6. A detailed letter explaining the cause of school drop out – Be very specific in writing this letter. Include detailed information on what your students studied, your reasons for not enrolling children in school (financial hardship, travel etc. are all valid), and your reasons for wanting to enroll them now.
These pages should be part of your application package with the school and the school should submit them to the KHDA with your childs registration.
Which are the Northern Emirates?
All emirates in the United Arab Emirates, north of Abu Dhabi. That includes Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah.
This homeschooling group is a place where families can share ideas and encouragement in regards to homeschooling. We provide an online forum to communicate about upcoming field trips, special events, meetings, and enrichment classes in a safe and secure way.
We provide students with a social outlet beyond enrichment classes and many life-long friendships have been forged among our students.
In addition, this group seeks to establish an ongoing set of resources so that any homeschooling family in the Emirates can receive support and maintain communication with others.
Why would I homeschool in the Emirates, I heard that there were plenty of accredited International schools?
Families choose to home-school for as many reasons as there are families in the UAE. For some, the method of schooling is critically important and may not be available in a brick and mortar school. For others, private school costs may not be affordable. Many UAE based expats have opportunities for family travel which schools cannot accommodate. Some people are simply happy with the family closeness and opportunity for deep academic engagement with their children. Whatever the reason, DUNEHA seeks to embrace all families and their social, cultural and educational path as home-schoolers.
How does homeschooling work in the UAE?
We can only paint a picture of this in the broadest of terms, UAE homeschooling families:
- Have at least one parent at home to instruct children.
- Have two parents at work with flexible schedules.
- Have children in religious schools and provide academic instruction at home.
- Send their children to licensed tutoring centers.
- Are enrolled in Distance Learning programs
- Are using a curriculum but aren’t enrolled.
- Are un-schooling or using other child-led method.
- Hire tutors to teach their children.
There are so many diverse and exciting ways that a child can receive an education. DUNEHA generally reflects this diversity in its families.
Well, what about socialization? Aren’t children who school at home isolated and don’t interact with peers?
This seems to be the main concern of everyone who considers educating at home. It is a valid concern but one that is easily remedied. Many families have members who create a social environment for the children. This social environment can also be found in religious circles. Outside of familial and spiritual options there are many extracurricular activities on offer for children in the Emirates. These activities like baseball, soccer/ football, gymnastics, drama, and art are often grouped by age and allow children to interact with peers.
Homeschooling children are often more at ease in situations that are age-diverse because they are frequently interacting with people across the age spectrum. The homeschooling association organizes field trips, activities, and classes for children allowing for yet another means of social interaction. Children who school at home can be the most well rounded children on the playground simply because their parents have gone out of their way to make sure they are having a myriad of experiences.
What are some of the challenges when homeschooling in the United Arab Emirates?
Libraries in the UAE are a limited resource. Families who rely on the library and are used to schooling by checking out 15 books on one topic will be greatly challenged when trying to maintain that approach in the UAE. Selections are somewhat limited and the public libraries allow for checkout of 3 books per person. The Sharjah University library has membership for the public, they allow for 2 English books and 3 Arabic books at a time. Most of the English language titles are storybooks and not reference books. In Dubai, the private English language Old Library costs 250dhs per year, but it does allow up to 8 books at a time per family.
In many municipalities in the United States and Western Europe, local libraries will allow families to access electronic collections, while living abroad. This may be a resource to try to arrange prior to moving to the UAE.
Certain school supplies can be hard to come by. If your children are still young and love to use construction paper for crafts and other projects buy plenty in your home country. Other items like the squeezable Elmer’s glue can be hard to find in the UAE. There is a teacher’s supply store at the Jumeriah Beach Center, however it is comparatively expensive.There are very few whole-curriculum materials available here.
General school supplies are easily found at the discount centers, bookshops or Carrefour Supermarkets around the Emirates.