Stages of K-12 Education
K-12 education in the UAE starts at age 4 and ends at age 17.
Kindergarten (4-5 years)
Kindergarten in the UAE is voluntary and accommodates children who are below the age of admission to the first grade. Kindergarten consists of two levels, where children attend two years of mixed-gender classes:
- Kindergarten 1 (KG1)
- Kindergarten 2 (KG2)
This level prepares the children to be successful in primary level or (Cycle 1) and beyond. KG students spend their time developing social, language, physical and academic skills.
Basic level: primary or elementary level/Cycle 1 (6-11 years)
In this level, children complete Grades 1 to 5. This level provides a rich learning environment to inspire this age group as they begin their educational journey.
Intermediate level/Cycle 2 (12-14 years)
In this level, children complete Grades 6 to 9. This level aims to nurture young students for the future and help them become fully-developed members of society. Students who are interested in vocational education can switch to a technical secondary school at this stage of education.
Secondary level/Cycle 3 (15-17 years)
In this level, students complete Grades 10 to 12. In this level, students are prepared for the starting point in their career and place in the society.
Prior to 2015, students chose either the scientific or the literary streams. However, MoE abolished this system and introduced the general or advanced curriculum for Grades 10 and 11, where students will follow a curriculum depending on their performance in Grade 9. Students in the advanced track will receive more in-depth instruction in maths and science than those in the general track.
This step is aimed at equipping the students with skills needed to succeed in higher education and meet the needs of the job market. It also facilitates high school graduates to enrol directly in universities without having to go through a foundation year, which will be eliminated by 2018. The new structure will prepare the students to gain direct enrolment in engineering, medical and natural sciences programmes in the UAE’s universities and overseas.
Once completing this level, the student will be granted a high school certificate, which indicates passing 12 years of compulsory education. Students who attended the technical secondary school will be awarded the technical secondary diploma upon completing this level.