Abu Dhabi, UAE: Education ideally starts from a very young age and, in the UAE, many children make their first foray into it by attending a nursery. The huge demand for these institutions has led to tremendous increase in their number, with nearly 405 nurseries operating across the country by the end of 2013.
The UAE Ministry of Social Affairs, which regulates and oversees nurseries, estimates that this is a 114 per cent increase from the 189 early learning institutions in 2008.
“The number of young children in the UAE has risen from just about 12,000 in 2008 to more than 23,000 in 2013. This is a 79 per cent increase within just five years, and it demands more services that play a significant role in aiding children’s early development,” Moza Al Shoomi, director of the child department at the Ministry, told Gulf News.
These institutions include more than 110 early learning centres and nurseries in Abu Dhabi alone, and parents say there are now a lot of fine facilities to choose from.
International studies recommend high-quality pre-school education before the age of three, and find that a few hours a day can be sufficient to achieve developmental goals. A UK-based study of 3,000 children who attended pre-school or nursery revealed that any kind of pre-school education translates into better grades in high school. And children who attend full-time fare just as well as those who attend part-time. The research, conducted by four UK-based universities, also suggests that early learning programmes implemented at nurseries should be designed and discussed with parents.
In the UAE, nurseries are classified into three types based on the age of children they can enrol, as well as the qualifications of professionals to cater to certain age groups. The first admit infants up to two years of age; the second can enrol toddlers aged two to three and the final class of nurseries can enrol children between the ages of three and four.
Despite the regulations, however, complaints about high fees continue to come in about nurseries and, according to Moza, concerns about fees make up 75 per cent of all parental complaints forwarded to the ministry each year. All fee increases, she said, must be approved by the ministry.
© Gulf News