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With the generous support of the Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Education Policy and Research, and in collaboration with the Dubai School of Government, the Gulf Comparative Education Society (GCES) organized its second annual symposium on March 16 and 17, 2011. Entitled “Intersections of the Public and Private in Education in the GCC,” the symposium was held at the Al Hamra Convention Center in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. It consisted of nine panels and 32 presentations, with both invited speakers as well as those who had submitted abstracts for presentation. The speakers came from a wide variety of countries, including the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Switzerland, England and the United States, and represented different voices in the education sector, ranging from policy makers, academics and researchers, to school providers and leaders, consultants and teachers.

The purpose of the GCES symposium was to examine the increasing influence of the private sector on public education policies and practices in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), particularly in the context of access, equity, quality and accountability. Delivering the keynote address on new education governance partnerships was Prof. Susan Robertson, Professor of Sociology of Education at the University of Bristol, while the remaining panels addressed the following topics:

  • Blurred Boundaries: Public and Private Schooling in the GCC
  • The Role of the Market in Higher Education in the GCC
  • Building Teacher Quality
  • Addressing STEM
  • Leading Policy Change
  • Building a Knowledge Economy
  • Privatization of the Education System
  • Global Influences, Local Choices
  • Innovation in Education

 In addition, the symposium brought together over 100 participants working in a range of organizations across the Emirates, the Gulf states and beyond, all of whom shared an interest in comparative education in the GCC.

Following the symposium, presenters were asked if they would like to submit a 1000 – 3000 word paper on their presentation. This volume is the compilation of those who submitted papers. While it does not cover all of the presentations that were made at the symposium, presentation slides for all the presentations are available on the GCES Web site at

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