A World Bank report titled ‘The Road Travelled’ chronicles the success of education reform in Dubai”, is giving credit to the government for its approach to private education.

This report, which was recently released, underlines Dubai’s  government for its approach to private education and the work that has been done since 2008 and a previous World Bank education report titled ‘The Road Not Travelled’. At the time, the report looked at education reforms in the Middle East region, calling for more transparency and accountability to improve schools. This publication presented a comprehensive economic analysis of the impact of education investments on the region, as well as demographic changes, globalisation, labour migration, and the role of the labour market. It underlined that countries in the Middle East and North Africa needed to overhaul their education systems to meet the demands of an increasingly competitive world and realize the potential of their large and growing youth population.

Six years later, experts from the World Bank recognised the positive effects of creating the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai. Simon Thacker, World Bank Education Specialist for the MENA region (the report’s principal author) wrote that “Dubai had the vision to place an emphasis on human capital. It needed a talented workforce which required training for locals while continuing to attract foreign capital. The challenge for KHDA was very simple. It had to develop a suitable public policy for the private sector.”

The report says, “The road KHDA is travelling is a very significant one because it is demonstrating how innovative governance designs can help a public institution steer an expanding private education sector towards quality improvements. In this respect, there are valuable lessons emerging from Dubai.”

Advising countries to draw inspiration from the Dubai model, the World Bank report added, “KHDA’s approach represents a new best practice, a solid model worth replicating in other private education markets.” Increasing wealth has allowed families to invest in better schools for their children. Prompting investors to build bigger and better private schools, the report highlights the role of the KHDA in regulating private schools.

“It shows how authorities have established a public oversight and accountability framework for an education system which is nearly 90 per cent private — a situation which is both unique and extreme — and yet without providing direct or indirect state funding or subsidization to it,” the report said.

The report aims at building a better understanding of the increasing privatization of schools across developing countries. “As more and more education systems turn towards the private provision of education, it is important for the Bank to understand how these markets function and, more importantly, how to tackle the governance, regulatory and financial challenges that they are posing to the State.”