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The United Arab Emirates Early Education Policy

The United Arab Emirates Early Education Policy

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country that values the welfare and development of children in the early childhood stage, which is defined as the period from conception to eight years of age. The UAE has established various entities, policies and legislations to support the early childhood development and care (ECDC) system, which covers health and nutrition, child protection, family support and early care and education.

Entities for ECDC
At the federal level, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Community Development, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Prevention are responsible for the protection of children. In addition, the Federal Authority for Early Childhood Education, established in 2022, specialises in early childhood education and coordinates with local authorities to license and monitor government and private nurseries in the UAE. At the local level, each emirate has its own entities that support child welfare, such as the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), the Department of Community Development, the Endowments’ & Minors’ Funds Authority, the Endowment and Minors’ Trust Foundation and the Child Safety Department.

Policies and legislations for ECDC
The UAE has enacted several laws, decrees and policies related to the education sector, which are available on the official portal of the UAE government. Some of these include:

– Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 on Child Rights (Wadeema’s Law), which aims to protect children from all forms of negligence, exploitation and abuse
– Federal Law No. 29 of 2016 on Private Education Institutions, which regulates the establishment and operation of private schools and nurseries
– Cabinet Resolution No. 22 of 2019 on Licensing Regulations for Early Childhood Education Centres
– Cabinet Resolution No. 23 of 2019 on Regulations for Early Childhood Education Centres
– Cabinet Resolution No. 24 of 2019 on Standards for Early Childhood Education Centres
– Cabinet Resolution No. 25 of 2019 on Fees for Services Provided by Federal Authority for Early Childhood Education

Strategies for ECDC
The UAE has also developed and implemented various strategies to enhance the quality and outcomes of early childhood education, such as:

– The National Strategy for Motherhood and Childhood (2017-2021), which aims to provide a nurturing environment for mothers and children in line with international standards
– The National Strategy for Higher Education (2019-2030), which aims to create a world-class higher education system that meets the needs of the labour market and society
– The National Strategy for Innovation in Education (2020-2026), which aims to foster a culture of innovation and creativity in education through digital transformation, curriculum development, teacher training and student empowerment

Examples of ECDC initiatives
The UAE has also launched several initiatives to support ECDC, such as:

– The Smart Start Initiative, which provides free access to online learning platforms for children aged 4 to 5 years
– The Early Intervention Programme, which provides screening, assessment and intervention services for children with developmental delays or disabilities
– The Happiness Curriculum, which integrates social-emotional learning into the curriculum for children aged 3 to 8 years
– The Emirati School Model, which standardises the curriculum, assessment and evaluation system for public schools across the UAE

Data on ECDC outcomes
According to the data published by the Ministry of Education, the number of early childhood education centres in Dubai was 120 in 2020. The number of nurseries in the UAE was 497 in 2014, with 35,552 children registered. According to the World Bank, the gross enrolment ratio for pre-primary education in the UAE was 85% in 2018, compared to 71% in 2010.


– Al Hammadi, N., & Al Shamsi, F. (2017). Early childhood education in the United Arab Emirates: History, current status and future directions. International Journal of Early Years Education, 25(3), 255-269.
– Al Hosani, M., Al Blooshi, A., & Al Ameri, M. (2020). A review of early childhood development policies in Abu Dhabi: Challenges and opportunities. International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy, 14(1), 1-17.
– Al Junaibi, A., & Al Hammadi, F. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on early childhood education in United Arab Emirates: Perspectives from parents and teachers. International Journal of Early Childhood Special Education (INT-JECSE), 13(1), 1-16.
– Al Suwaidi, S., & Al Hashmi, A. (2018). Early childhood education in the United Arab Emirates: The role of the federal authority for government human resources. International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy, 12(1), 1-13.

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