In the United Arab Emirates, the government has pushed STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through educational reform as well as through national strategic measures such as the Advanced Sciences Agenda and the Fourth Industrial Revolution strategy. Educational reform starting with Abu Dhabi and then Dubai and the Northern Emirates has focused on integrating creativity and innovative thinking into school curricula. The national agenda and the UAE Vision have set goals for the UAE to be among the top 20 highest performing countries in PISA and the top 15 highest performing countries in TIMSS. Over the past decade, government agencies have organized numerous activities to support this agenda. For example, the Ministry of Education has launched multiple events to encourage students to partake in STEM activities including an annual national science fair named the National Science, Technology and Innovation Festival (NSTIF) and an Artificial Intelligence and Robotics series (AIR) which took place in late January of 2019. Since 2012, the Emirates Foundation has been running “Think Science”, an annual youth-focused program in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Education and Abu Dhabi Department of Education to develop knowledge in the fields of science, technology and innovation.
However, there has been limited assessment of how Schools in the UAE are adopting these educational trends. In this report, we explore STEAM adoption in private schools in Dubai focusing primarily on five key challenges and opportunities that emerged from our fieldwork. Based on extensive empirical findings, the report argues that as the 4th industrial revolution transforms the employment landscape in the region, a focus on educational reform is critical to combat the negative consequences of technological revolutions, and take advantage of rising opportunities.
This report begins with a discussion of the impact of the 4IR and the AI revolution on the future of work and the skills needed to address future challenges. We then discuss the steps taken by the UAE to address the challenges of the 4IR and the strategies it has developed to promote STEAM and advanced sciences in the UAE. The third section of the report discusses the main findings of our case study of Dubai private schools. Finally, we provide policy recommendations aimed at promoting STEAM education in schools based on the rich findings of the research.