Local needs, external requirements: Balancing the needs of a country’s educational system with the requirements of international recognition

Introduction

The further development of any country and its economy rests on the quality of the educational system to provide quality instruction that fosters an environment of continual growth and development for its citizens. With the increased focus on capacity building in the global economy, all Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs) struggling with this concept in terms of goals versus reality. Although resources (wealth and human capital) are sustainability issues for any country, there are a few, such as those in the Arabian Gulf, who possess the wealth but still lack indigenous human capital for a sustainable educational system which does not solely depend upon outsourced or expatriate work forces (Luke 1983, Nadiri 1994, Ali 2001).

While the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the 4th largest oil reserves in the world, certainly does possess the wealth to provide education to its citizens, it has lacked in human capacity in terms of Emiratis entering educational fields. While the UAE has an indigenous population of less than 1 million, it has an expatriate work force over 3 million. In 2002 some 63% of the teaching workforce was expatriate – of male teacher teachers, some 92% were non- Emirati (UAE Ministry of Education and Youth 2002). Even though a decision to develop an indigenous educational system has been undertaken, a more cognizant understanding of the region must also be realized which makes it imperative that any legitimate institution must seek external validation to its quality. While Romani (2009) describes the ambitious intentions of governments in the GCC region to establish “world-class” universities, he notes the generally “meager” achievements of government-sponsored universities set up in the 1960’s on onwards to address the ever-growing lack of quality and standards, and, latterly, the likewise meager efforts of private institutions permitted to flourish with minimal impact.

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