The UAE is banking on education for development
Dubai - Arabstoday
This year, the United Arab Emirates has pledged nearly a half of its education budget to the under-nines, noted Badr Al-Olama, chairman of Bidayaat, the newly-launched childcare development company.
He said that Dhs8.2bn is allocated for education, adding that 45% of the budget in 2012 is specifically earmarked for the early learning and primary segments - known to be a key global indicator of a nation's social and economic development.
"The UAE has made education a priority and this is highlighted by the significant budget allocation which represents about 25% of the total federal budget."
He said that this is an increase of nearly 80% over 2011 when education was allocated Dhs4.6bn.
"The sizable budget for education in 2012 further supports the UAE's Vision 2021 strategy," Al-Olama observed.
Vision 2021 is a strategic holistic programme geared towards the development of a cohesive, sustainable and prosperous society driven by UAE-nurtured and educated global citizens.
Al-Olama said that Bidayaat is one of the first private sector companies to launch in support of Vision 2021. The company kicked off operations this month.
Meanwhile, Bidayaat's CEO, Tracey Furey confirmed Bidayaat's commitment is to bring world-class childcare development programmes to the UAE that help enrich the lives of current and future generations.
"Indeed, we have already started investing in early years' education programmes geared to delivering an outstanding experience for children, parents and pre-school educators," she said.
Furey noted that research suggests a clear link between the standard of a country's education and its economic performance, and that unemployment is shown to be lower in countries where early learning is widely supported and experienced by the adult population than in those where it is not readily available.
Al-Olama further added that the need for early learning education in the UAE is being driven by the increase in the number of working mothers. In 2010, around 25 per cent of Emirati women were employed, and this is known to be increasing.
"The demand for a professional pre-school environment for the children of working mothers bodes well for the children, our economy and for the societal development of the UAE in general.''
"It is reported that children under three who experience a professional early learning programme bring the highest return in productivity in later years," Al-Olama stated
He said that Bidayaat, which means beginnings in Arabic, is focused on delivering early education programmes and initiatives that have the ability to help nurture long-term economic growth and social sustainability.
"At Bidayaat, we are fusing leading-edge curricula and age-appropriate learning methodologies, with a highly skilled team and partners, as well as seeking active community involvement."
He commented that the social sustainability of the UAE is at the core of Vision 2021, and indeed, Bidayaat.
"We have made it our mission to help develop a world-class early learning years' infrastructure in the UAE, so that the nation as a whole can benefit from being a 'knowledge-based economy' for many generations to come," he concluded.