Imagine this: you’re the proud owner of a new school. You’ve got all the supplies, the curriculum is in place, and you’re ready to get started.
But then, out of nowhere, a letter arrives from the KHDA.
You open it cautiously and find that they want to inspect your school. Your heart rate quickens as you wonder what could be wrong with your new business venture.
And then… it hits you: they haven’t approved your school yet!
But why does your school, or any of the other 578 academic institutions in Dubai, need KHDA approval in the first place? Well, it’s simple. Before you can earn money from tuition payments, the KHDA has to give you permission.
So let’s look at what KHDA approval is, why it matters, and how you can get your school involved. Keep reading to learn more about the process.
What Is KHDA?
KHDA stands for the Knowledge, Human Resources and Development Authority. It is an independent government agency under the Ministry of Education that aims to provide quality education in Dubai.
They support the development of the education sector through research, planning, monitoring, and evaluation. They also provide an assessment framework for schools and colleges to measure their performance.
What Is KHDA Approval?
KHDA approval is a certification that proves that your courses meet the educational standards of Dubai. It is required if you want to teach or be a principal. This approval comes at a price—we’ll discuss the cost below.
The Benefits of the KHDA Approval Process
The KHDA approval process helps ensure that students are receiving the best possible education. The government wants to make sure that teachers are well-qualified and that learning materials meet current standards. There are many benefits of having your school approved by the KHDA, including:
- Increased enrollment opportunities for students
- Students can apply for scholarships from Dubai’s government
- Parental and community trust
You also get a spot on their annual school report. The reports identify a school’s strengths and weaknesses on an overall 6-point scale:
- Outstanding: The highest levels of teachers and curriculum
- Very good: Beyond the expectations of the KHDA in learning practices
- Good: The basic standard of education in the UAE
- Acceptable: Satisfactory standards but require improvement in one or more areas (ex. academic achievements)
- Weak: Lack of a solid curriculum, skilled teachers, and a successful student body
- Very weak: A deplorable standard of education
Because of the competition between schools, high-performing institutions can raise their prices at a higher rate than less successful ones. Your school may be among the top performers, but you’ll never know without an inspection from the KHDA.
If you want to apply for the KHDA approval, you’ll have to start with the application.
How to Get KHDA Approval?
We’re happy that you’re ready to bring your school to the next level! But before you do, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. We’ve compiled a list of the steps you’ll need to take in order to get KHDA approval and make sure that your school is ready for inspection.
Step 1: Build Your School’s Vision
The KHDA grants approvals for a wide range of educational activities, from early childhood care to private tutoring and trade schools. You’ll need to decide what kind of school you want to run and what your vision is for the future.
If you’re not sure, take some time to think about your goals and what they mean to your students. Do they want to learn English? Or do they want a career in technology?
Once you’ve decided on the type of licence that’s right for your business, you’ll need to write about your school’s vision. This is an important document that outlines how you’re going to run your institution and what kinds of students you want to attract. It also helps KHDA inspectors understand what makes your school unique and better than others in Dubai.
You might even want to consider creating a mockup of your classroom or facility to show authorities what it will look like in person.
Step 2: The Application Form
Before you even consider filling out the KHDA application for approval, there are a few things you need to know about your school.
If you haven’t thought of a name yet, you’ll need to. It should represent what your school is about. Some Dubai academies have misleading names, so yours will stand out from the crowd if it’s clear and descriptive.
For example, instead of something broad like “Dubai Academy International,” a better name might be “Dubai Academy of Mathematics and Science.”
Ensure that the name isn’t the same as an already established institution. Not only is this not allowed, but your marketing will also take a hit. People who were really interested in your school may be directed to an established institution by mistake.
Deciding on a Location
You’ll also need to decide if your school will be online or physical. If you choose the former, you should have a website ready to go with a list of teachers and their credentials.
If you’re going for a brick-and-mortar location, make sure that it’s ready for inspection. Once the application is complete, inspectors will show up soon (usually in about 2 weeks).
Also, consider the benefits of opening a school in a free zone vs. the mainland before you make your final decision. One reason that many schools start off in a free zone is because they can hire teachers from outside of the UAE.
Step 3: Add Your Registration Plan
Your registration plan includes everything, from the curriculum you’ll use to how often students can miss class and still pass. There must also be a method for evaluating student progress. This includes an attendance policy and a way to keep track of students’ grades.
Beyond this, there will need to be information about your educators. For example, include a brief bio of each teacher and what they specialise in. Proof of their skills is also required.
You’ll also have to outline how you’re going to advertise your business. This can be as simple as using social media or creating a website and email list. Regardless of your method, make sure you’re clear about how you’ll communicate with students and parents.
All in all, the registration plan should be easy enough for inspectors to understand; however, if you have questions about it, speak with an education expert before submitting.
Step 4: Supplement Your Application With Documents
Once you’ve completed the registration plan, you’ll have to submit a few additional documents. The first is proof of identification.
Color passports are a good choice. You’ll need one from each shareholder. You’ll also need a course list, notary public signatures, manager’s CV, and manager’s undertaking.
Step 5: Submit Your Application Through the E-portal
Once you’ve completed the registration plan and all of its documents, you’ll need to submit your application through the E-service. To do this, you’ll have to provide a payment voucher that shows that you’ve paid the required fees. You can do this by emailing your voucher to the KHDA or going directly to the E-service portal.
You should receive an email confirming your submission, but if not, contact the authorities directly. They will have to approve or reject your form before you can make any other moves.
Do Teachers Need KHDA Approval Too?
Yes, teachers need to be approved by the KHDA as well. This is an important step in making sure your teachers are qualified, but it also helps with accountability.
KHDA approval of teachers isn’t automatic just because an accredited school wants to hire them. Instead, teachers have to take KHDA-approved courses before being considered high-quality educators. A fine of up to AED 100,000 will be imposed on anyone who violates this rule.
The topics covered? Classroom management, behaviour management, instructional strategies, and anything that’s essential for grooming Dubai’s youth into the next generation of leaders.
The approval process can take a long time, and it’s not cheap. This isn’t an issue for most schools, but it can be problematic for smaller ones that don’t have the funds or staff to handle this paperwork themselves.
What Are KHDA Criteria?
KHDA has a few criteria that they use to determine if a school is of high quality. You will find a few of their criteria below, but you can get more detailed information by getting in touch with the KHDA.
Some of their criteria include:
Provision of Curriculum and Assessment
The KHDA will ensure that a school has a suitable curriculum for each age group, as well as an effective assessment process.
Innovation is key here. The KHDA will look for schools that are constantly trying new things in order to improve their students’ learning. The KHDA will also make sure that any new initiatives have been tested and proven effective before being rolled out.
Provision of Students’ Personal and Social Development
All schools must provide students with the opportunity to develop their personal and social skills through activities like extracurricular clubs, games, and outdoor activities. Schools should also offer health-related education topics such as nutrition, hygiene, and safety practices at school or outside of it. In addition, all schools are required to provide moral education as part of their academic curriculum at every grade level from kindergarten through high school graduation (or equivalent).
Accommodations for SEND Students
To accommodate students with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities (D), the school must have an inclusive education policy that outlines its approach to teaching, support, and inclusion of pupils. This should include provision for the individual education plans (IEPs) required for each student according to their individual needs.
Schools should also have facilities such as ramps for wheelchair users or social skills training for students with ASD.
Achievements of Emirati Students
In the UAE, Emirati students have achieved excellent results in both international and local examinations. The UAE has consistently ranked in the top 20 countries worldwide for primary school enrollment rates. It also boasts a very high literacy rate.
Of course, the KHDA wants to keep Emirati students at the top of their game. That’s why it has put in place a strong educational system that provides children with a solid foundation in fundamental subjects, such as mathematics, science, and language skills.
Protection, Care, Guidance, and Support for Students
Schools must provide a safe environment for students to learn and grow. The KHDA encourages schools to create a culture in which students feel safe, supported, and cared for by the school community.
Schools are required to have a clear and effective system in place for reporting and addressing any abuse or violence. The KHDA has also put in place rules that protect students from being bullied, harassed, or discriminated against because of their religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, or other factors.
The KHDA has a list of offenses punishable by fines of up to AED 150,000. After the KHDA notices flaws in your school, they will write you a letter and request that those problems be fixed. If there is no response in 12 months and a similar offense occurs again, they will raise your fine.
Contact the team at DUQE today to get started on your application. You’ll be amazed at the difference a free zone makes.