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Abu Dhabi PPP school project

Sunday 24 March 2019 (UAE)   

ADEC Public Private Partnership PPP schools in Abu Dhabi

End of PPP for Abu Dhabi schools (Emirates 24-7 report 29 July 2012)
  • A report in Emirates 24-7 said "Abu Dhabi education authorities have decided to terminate the services of 65 foreign operators and restrict school management to Emiratis from the next academic year, effectively ending the long-standing partnership system. The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) has already ended the services of 116 foreign firms managing the emirate’s schools and the rest will be dismantled by the beginning of the 2-12-2013 school year."
  • The report quoted Mugheer Al Khaily (Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director-General of ADEC) as saying to the Arabic newspaper, Emirat Alyoum, "The partnership system was successful and achieved the required results … but we decided to dismantle this system so nationals will play their role in managing schools"
  • Update: Despite what the report said, ADEC still seem to be recruiting expat teachers for their schools in 2013 and 2014 - Teachaway regularly advertise for teachers in Abu Dhabi public schools, and other consultants for example SSAT Middle East are also advertising vacancies.
PPP schools in Abu Dhabi update (WAM report 07 March 2010)
  • PPP operators now in 176 public (government) schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Al Gharbia.
  • Current PPP operaters in Abu Dhabi (AUH) include Beaconhouse, CfBT Education LLC, Cognition, Mosaica, Nord Anglia, Sabis, School Improvement Partners (SIP), Specialist Schools and Academy Trust (SSAT), and TaaleemEdisonLearning (TEL).
  • HE Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili, head of ADEC, said "This project is key to the overall success of ADEC's 10 Year Strategic Plan," to a meeting of representatives and officials from ADEC, the PPP operators, and the Abu Dhabi Educational Zone (ADEZ).
Abu Dhabi schools PPP update 14 September 2009
  • The Abu Dhabi PPP schools partnership will be extended from 118 to 147 schools for 2009-2010 academic year, to include all goverment high schools in Abu Dhabi.
  • Taaleem Education in Dubai will join the PPP operators list from 2010.
Welcome to Abu Dhabi, new teachers for 2010-2011
  • A large influx of new Abu Dhabi teachers for the government and model schools had a fairly typical sounding welcome to the country with reports of withheld passports, substandard accommodation or delays in moving into new accommodation, unpaid salaries, no medical insurance, residence visas not being processed, and so on and so on.
  • But ADEC management said everything was normal, and these things take time. However at a meeting between disgruntled teachers and ADEC, after a press report about the problems the teachers were facing, it sounded like resolution would be sped up. Supporting the notion that sometimes in the UAE, nothing gets done properly or efficiently until after a lot of noise is made.
    • 22 Sep 2010 (The National) - Just days after the start of the new school year and more than a month since some 940 teachers arrived here for an overhaul of the emirate's schools, many have begun complaining of inefficient management and long delays in visa processing that have left some without their passports for more than five weeks. ... But education chiefs rejected the criticism. "There has been no delay," said Salem Al Sayari, the head of support services at Adec. "It is normal in this country for it to take some time to process visas and staff were warned it would take four to five weeks."
    • 23 Sep 2010 (The National) - Youssef al Marzouqi, General Services Manager at ADEC, said in a meeting "I will start by saying that your apartments will be allocated after this meeting and you can begin moving in tomorrow. ... We are waiting for third parties to provide services such as government entities, the health authority and insurance companies, We have no control over them. ... We are working to speed up the process with them and expect that you will all have your passports in hand next week."
    • 15 Dec 2010 update - The National reported that about 3% of the expat English teachers had left, with the article headlined "Rowdy pupils scare away newly arrived expat teachers." One complaint was they were told Arabic teachers would be in the class to support them, but weren't. One teacher who left not long after arriving was quoted saying "I had no Arabic support in the classroom and no support from the administration. The discipline issues were extreme. I was shocked and scared. The boys would be fighting all the time, there was throwing of things and pencil stabbing in the classroom and no one would help me to manage them." A recruitment adviser for ADEC, Vincent Ferrandino, made an astute observation which should put things into perspective for any prospective teachers - he was quoted saying "If a teacher cannot manage a class, then perhaps they are not ready for the job." It was not clear if, when he was recruitment advising new teachers, he had alerted them to some of the class management situations they would be expected to deal with, such as fighting and stabbing (presumably amongst the students rather than the staff).
  • Welcome to the UAE.
Abu Dhabi PPP schools information

In September 2006, the pilot program of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative was launched by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) to improve the standards in public (government) schools in Abu Dhabi with the aid of private education providers. Several providers signed up to the initiative, and Technical and Further Education Global (TAFE Global), part of the New South Wales Department of Education and Training in Australia, was to provide a curriculum for the PPP operators and schools. The providers (as far as we know) are:

  • Beaconhouse (2010?) - Beaconhouse International operates schools and other educational institutes around the world. Beaconhouse MENA is a Dubai based subsidiary which covers the Gulf region. UAE institutes under Beaconhouse ownership or management include the Palm Nursery in Dubai, and the Gulf (Khaleej) Nursery in Sharjah. Contact information: Ms Tina Blackaby, Regional Director (MENA), Beaconhouse Education Services, Dubai Knowledge Village, tel +971-4-4484396. Email maybe info@beaconhouseuae.ae (don't count on it).
  • CfBT Education Trust (2008) - a UK based organisation that offers educational consultancy and related services. CfBT is the Centre for British Teachers for Education. CfBT were involved with management of 17 schools in Abu Dhabi for 2007-2008. Many critical comments from teachers who signed up with CfBT, and salaries are apparently lower than for those who signed up with other providers.
  • Cognition Consulting (2008) - a New Zealand based educational consulting company established in January 2006 as a subsidiary of Multi Serve Education Trust. Joined the PPP program for September 2007? Three schools in Abu Dhabi City, 6 schools in Baniyas (a town on the highway to Al Ain, not Baniyas Island, teachers live in Abu Dhabi or Al Ain, not Bani Yas), 7 schools in Al Ain. Seems to have a better reputation amongst teachers than the other providers, and apparently pays good salaries. Phone +971-2-4069665 or +971-2-4069663 in Abu Dhabi UAE, tel +64-9-6384760 in Auckland NZ, tel 64-4-3820300 Wellington NZ.
  • GEMS School Improvement Partnership (2008) (SIP) (GEMSSIP) - Global Education Management Systems (GEMS) is an organisation that owns a large number of schools in the UAE (and further afield). Very little information found about GEMS as a PPP partner - 4 PPP schools in Abu Dhabi for 2007-2008? GEMS schools have a mixed reputation amongst teachers and parents. Few comments seen about the PPP schools in their portfolio, roughly 50:50 split between good and bad. Tel +971-4-3477770 in Dubai.
  • Mosaica Education Inc (2008) - a US based school and educational consultancy, operated in 6 schools in Abu Dhabi / Baniyas for 2007-2008, maybe more for 2008-2009. Seems to have a fairly positive reputation amongst teachers, with better salaries. No UAE tel number found, try email partner@mosaicaeducation.com.
  • Nord Anglia Education PLC (2008) - a UK based education provider contracted to manage 14 schools in Abu Dhabi / Al Ain in 2007-2008, maybe up to 30 schools for 2008-2009. Teachers who signed up with Nord Anglia seem to be fairly happy, and salaries are allegedly higher than SABIS or CfBT. Tel +971-2-4474467 in Abu Dhabi, tel +971-3-7670015 in Al Ain.
  • SABIS / Intered (2008) - the organisation that operates Choueifat Schools in the UAE, Middle East, and a few other countries. Managed 6 schools in Al Ain and Ghayathi in 2006-2007, up to 15 schools in Al Ain, Al Khazna, Gayathi for 2007-2008. Some scathing comments from teachers about their management and administration seen on forums and blogs. Reportedly pays lower salaries than the other providers.
  • School Improvement Partners (SIP) - see GEMS SIP
  • Specialist Schools and Academy Trust (SSAT education consultants), UK (2010?) - UAE office is SSAT Education Centre, PO Box 14126, Al Ain, UAE, tel +971-3-7640331, fax +971-3-7640339, email abudhabienquiries@ssatrust.org.uk. Operates the International Networking for Educational Transformation (iNet) program? Taibah School in Al Ain is one of the SSAT managed schools from September 2010.
  • SSAT Middle East (start date unknown) - Abu Dhabi office of SSAT UK?
  • TaaleemEdisonLearning (TEL) (2010?) - same as, or part of, Taaleem in Dubai?

Penta International Limited are a UK based school review organisation who have been commissioned by the ADEC to monitor and report on the progress of the PPP initiative. They are not involved in the actual management of the schools.

The pilot project for the PPP initiative began in September 2006 in thirty KG-5 schools in the emirate of Abu Dhabi - 12 in Al Ain, 12 in Abu Dhabi city, and 6 in the Western Region / Al Gharbiya. From September 2007, two additional operators signed up to provide PPP education for 3 years to 30 new schools for grade 6-9 students. From September 2008, grades 10-12 students are expected to be included in the system.

ADEC is an Abu Dhabi government body established in September 2005 to take over some of the functions of the UAE Ministry of Education, and the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. ADEC issues licences for educational institutes, supervises education zones and schools, and establishes and monitors educational standards in schools. ADEC will also attest degrees awarded by government and private colleges and universities. ADEC is not the same as the Abu Dhabi Education Zone (ADEZ)

Teaching in PPP schools

Teaching in one of the PPP schools is probably going to be challenging, to say the least. It might be rewarding - the organisations trying to employ you will certainly tell you that. If you are enthusiastic about education reform, then a PPP job should be just what the doctor ordered. If you're a teacher who relies on schools and departments to provide all the resources you need, then you'll probably be more of a hindrance than a help to the initiative. The UAE education reformers want to drag government schools from the old fashioned rote-learning system into the 21st century, complete with interactive whiteboards and internet connections (which are less likely to be available the further away from a city center you are).

Before signing up to a PPP job, we'd suggest you crack open The Google and spend a bit of time searching for more information. There are a disproportionate number of ascerbic comments in forums and blogs (Dave's ESL Cafe, and the TES for example) about working for one or two of the PPP school providers. Some comments sound quite slanderous, although in most countries, truth is accepted as a defense against accusations of slander. To be fair, there are also comments from teachers who say it has been a richly rewarding experience (of course some claim they are just stooges but we don't know that for sure).

Students are Emirati, not expat, and government schools are segregated. Most teachers who have taught both boys and girls will say the girls are much more pleasant, enthusiatic, and motivated. There are comments from teachers that some of the boys schools have an unnerving degree of violence. Unknown whether this is any more than what you might encounter in a less pleasant school in the middle of London or New York.

Have you taught or are you teaching in one of the PPP schools? Add comments to the Teaching in Abu Dhabi PPP schools topic.

Teaching jobs, salaries and benefits in Abu Dhabi government PPP schools

Salaries and benefits packages may vary substantially amongst the different providers. As with any job in the UAE, if you don't get something promised in writing, don't expect the promise to materialise (and even when it is in writing, the interpretation may not be what you expected, to put it diplomatically).

Salaries seem to range from about 5,000-12,000 dhs per month (which is at the lower end of the scale that a western-trained school teacher with a couple of years experience could expect in the UAE) but those figures have not been confirmed. Accommodation may or may not be provided - perhaps it depends on the education agency you signed up with. If not, assume it will be a pain in the ah... neck to sort out. Expensive in Abu Dhabi city, or substandard elsewhere, and difficult to find anywhere. Medical insurance may or may not be provided, again that is unclear. Companies are supposed to provide government health insurance as a minimum (but many expats would regard that is insufficient). If not, you can arrange a government health card yourself for a few hundred dhs per year, or private medical insurance for several hundred dhs per month.

Teach Away USA was advertising teaching jobs within the "Abu Dhabi public school system" in January 2010 for licenced North American teachers to teach in government primary and secondary schools. Benefits package included:

  • Tax-free salaries of $40,000-$65,000 per year (about 12,000-20,000 dirhams per month)
  • Additional benefits included accommodation, furniture or furniture allowance, return annual airfares for employee and family members, medical care, one month salary bonus per year.
  • Employment start date August 2010.
  • Update: June 2010 Teach Away teaching job advertisements had salaries of US$43,500-$72,000, and said about 1000 kindergarten and elementary / primary school teachers needed for August 2010
  • Update 22 February 2011: Teachaway website advertisements for ADEC public school teaching jobs said salaries of AED 12,300 to AED 20,400 per month (about USD $3350-$5500). Start date August 2011. Contract length 2 years.

Living in Abu Dhabi city

Abu Dhabi City is built on an island in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, with downtown Abu Dhabi at the sea-end of the island. At the desert end of the island (the entrance to Abu Dhabi) is Khalifa City, which is close enough to be considered part of the city of Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi city is a relatively cosmopolitan city in which westerners find it reasonably comfortable to live in. It is a little more conservative than Dubai but by and large is an easy place to live. Most of what is written on this site about living in Dubai is applicable to Abu Dhabi. Although Arabic is the official language of the UAE, English is often the common denominator amongst the many different nationalities, and western expats live for years in Abu Dhabi without learning a word of Arabic.

Al Shahama (Shahamah)

Al Shahama is a small town (or suburb of Abu Dhabi City at a stretch) on the coast road to Dubai, a 30 min to one hour drive out of Abu Dhabi city (less if you live near the airport or Khalifa City) so although it's much less cosmopolitan, it's not so far away that you'll feel as isolated as if you were living in the Western Region. However, if you're living in Abu Dhabi City, it's a long enough drive that you may find it gets tedious leaving early and arriving home late on a regular basis.

Living in Al Ain

Al Ain is a city smaller than Abu Dhabi, a little more than an hour's drive from Dubai or Abu Dhabi on a good highway. Al Ain is in the desert on the border with Oman. If you like the beach, bear in mind you are about an hour and half's drive from the coast. Al Ain is smaller and noticeably less cosmopolitan than Abu Dhabi or Dubai, with more of a community feel amongst the expats. Imagine living in a small town or large village in a western country, and you will get a sense of what it's like. Some people love it, some people don't. Facilities for shopping, infrastructure, sports clubs, etc are adequate rather than good or excellent.

Living in Abu Dhabi Western Region - Al Gharbiya, Ruwais, Ghayathi, Sheikh Zayed City (Madinat Zayed)

Abu Dhabi, the emirate, is a large area, and outside the two cities of Al Ain and Abu Dhabi is relatively desolate with a lot of sand and a few small towns. As a westerner, you will feel much more conspicuous in most places, and if you do not speak Arabic, you will find it more difficult to communicate than in the large cities. Facilities such as shopping centers, supermarkets with western products, sports clubs, restaurants and bars, are limited or non-existent. Females might feel uncomfortable walking around alone, especially at night. What is commonly known as the Western Region is also referred to as Al Gharbia, and in 2008, the Abu Dhabi government announced an initiative to boost development in the area. The first step was to rename it as Al Garbiya/ Garbia (or however you want to spell it).

Ghayathi (Gayathi, Gaiyathi)

Ghaiyathi is a small town about 30 km inland from Ruwais. There's very little there and your social life will probably consist of hanging out with other teachers from a similar cultural background. If you're not comfortable living in a very rural environment, then you probably won't be happy in Gaiyathy. Abu Dhabi city is far enough away (allow 3 hrs) that an afternoon or evening trip to go out for dinner or do a bit of shopping is a rather daunting expedition. If you don't have your own car, you'll be relying on taxis for transport. Not something we'd be very keen on.


Of the Western Region towns, Ruwais is our best pick in terms of somewhere to live. There is a larger expat community due to the industrial activity, and it's on the coast (beaches are nice, and the water is warm). Ruwais has a small community center, and a larger shopping center under construction which might be ready by 2010. There are a couple of hotels with alcohol, on the coast within range of Ruwais (Jebel Dhanna nearby and Al Mirfa a little further in the opposite direction). If you end up teaching in Gaiyathi, you may prefer to live in Ruwais and commute than live in Gayaithi. With the opening of the Higher Colleges of Technology in Ruwais, there are a few more people to whine about teaching with.

Madinat Zayed (Sheikh Zayed City)

Madinat Zayed (also known as Sheikh Zayed City) is a larger town than Gayathi, about 50 km inland from the coast, and a little closer to Abu Dhabi than Ruwais. Note there is also a Madinat Zayed area in the city of Abu Dhabi, which refers to part of the downtown region. Make sure you know which of the two Madinat Zayeds you're heading to - either way you'll get a shock if you end up in the one you weren't expecting to arrive in. There is a larger community of western expats than other Western Region towns as there is now a Madinat Zayed branch of the Higher Colleges of Technology.

Some PPP ADEC names, facts and figures

  • Director General of ADEC is Dr Hanif Hassan (September 2008), previously reported as Dr Mugheer al Khaili in May 2008, and Mubarak Al Shamsi before that.
  • Manager of the ADEC public private partnership (PPP) program is Paul Doorn (September 2008).
  • Head of ADEC curriculum department is Dr Richard Siler (2008-2013).
  • About 120 schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Gharbia have been designated as PPP schools by September 2008.
  • About 40% of Emirati students are enrolled in private schools.
Last update Saturday 17-Jan-2015
Related pages
Related websites (new window)
  • www.beaconhouse.net - Beacon House Education website, with section for the Beaconhouse MENA subsidiary involved in the PPP Abu Dhabi program. Not obvious where or how to apply for teaching jobs.
  • www.cfbt.com - CfBT Educational Trust website. Not obvious where to apply for PPP jobs.
  • www.cognitionconsulting.co.nz - Cognition Consulting website, has PPP jobs and the best set of FAQ we've seen
  • www.gemssip.com - GEMS School Improvement Partnership (SIP) website, still under development but they were advertising jobs with immediate start, "excellent salary", and a laptop (for August/September 2008).
  • www.mosaicaeducationinter.com - Mosaica Education International website, has job advertisements for school management advisors and advisory teachers in Abu Dhabi (and Doha in Qatar).
  • www.nordanglia-uae.com - Nord Anglia Middle East website with online application form and waffly job descriptions
  • www.sabis.net - SABIS website, or www.sabiscareers.com if you want to apply for a job with SABIS.
PPP Abu Dhabi school reform expat teacher blogs
  • adecinfocenter.wordpress.com - by teacher working for more than one ADEC PPP school. Has only a few posts but attempts to try and be objective and realistic by writing not just good things but the bad and ugly also.
  • charlottemcclain.wordpress.com - Charlotte McClain, starting August 2010?
  • thepeisels.blogspot.com - The Peisels, starting in August 2010?


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