Comparison Between Education in UAE and Japan



Comparative Education

Comparative education, defined as the analytical study of the education system of different countries in order to modify and bring perfection in the national educational system, has recently been accepted as the subject of academic studies (Hans, 2014). Although there is no specific standards or agreement how the comparison is made and which methods should be used the comparative education methodology is as old as 1817, the first comparative study is developed by Marc-Antoine Jullien de Paris.

Objective of the Study

The comparison of the different educational system along with the national one, in order to identify the possible needs of changes and modifications, is the best way to reform the educational system. This study-based report deliberates the educational system of UAE in comparison with the educational system of Japan. Discussion about the basic introduction of the educational system of both countries along with the teachers and teaching professionalism, educational accountability and education system policy is the main objective of the study.


Problem Statement

The tremendous need to fulfill the targets as described in the “Education 2021” by the Ministry of Education, UAE, new methods and approaches are required to bring positive reforms in the current educational system of UAE. However, the UAE education system is one of the best educational systems not only in the Middle East but also in the world; some consideration still has some vacant spaces. The study of comparative education can help in filling up these spaces. This study tries to bring out the most out of it for the possible recommendations.


Education in UAE

The newly formed education system of UAE has substantially increased the literacy rate of UAE form 54% in 1975 to 90% in 2005 (“Human Development Data (1990-2017)”, 2018). Founded by His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the education system of UAE is one of the best-emerging education systems in the world. Despite being new, education reforms, such as the initiative of transforming the education system of UAE to K-12 programs, taken by UAE Ministry of Education have guided the educational system of UAE to compete in the global marketplace. The reforms in the education sector emphases greater accountability, better skills and expertise, improved standards and advanced measures taken by the Ministry of Education, UAE. The integration of English language along with other subjects like science and mathematics ensured the full preparation of UAE students to attend world’s best universities around the globe (“Education in the UAE”, 2018).

In 1952, at the time of Trucial States Council, there were very few formal schools in UAE. 1960’s and 1970’s brought many new schools under the school developing program. According to the statistics of Ministry of Education UAE for the fiscal year 2016-2017, there are currently 659 public schools and 567 private schools in UAE with 280,841 and 777,459 students enrolled in them respectively (Ministry of Education, UAE, 2018). Besides a large number of schools, the United Arab Emirates is also the home to some of the great world universities, in both private and public sectors. Due to the free of cost enrollment charges of higher education in public sectors, UAE has the highest participation rate for higher education in the world. Around 90% percent of UAE students apply for admission in higher education programs across UAE. Multiple public universities like UAE University and Zayed University along with private institutions like Abu Dhabi University, Sharjah University, American Universities and Khalifa University of Science and Technology are some of the most prominent higher education institutes in UAE. Foreign universities like New York University and Sorbonne also have their campuses open in UAE. In spite of the position of the Ministry of Education as the sole strategy designer in education sector of UAE, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), the Sharjah Education Council, the Dubai Education Council (DEC) are also tasked with revolutionizing the educational sector in UAE (“Education in the UAE”, 2018).

Education in Japan

With a literacy rate of 99%, it is mandatory for Japanese nationals to have nine years of compulsory education, six years of elementary education and three years of junior high school (“Japanese School System”, 2018). Japans educational system is the same as the American one. Students spend six of their years in primary education, at the end of which they join the junior high school, 95% of which are government funded. Despite not free and not compulsory, 94% of graduates from junior high schools choose to enroll in high schools. The majority of the remaining students undergo from some vocational training (“Japan Education System”, 2018). With 22,258 elementary and 10,864 junior high schools throughout the country with almost seven million and 3.6 million students enrolled in them respectively, Japan’s education system is as old as 1872 (“Principles Guide Japan’s Educational System”, 2018). Japan’s education system plays a crucial part in its economy. The higher education system in Japan is based on universities, colleges of technologies and junior colleges. Besides them, specialized training colleges that offer post-secondary courses are also counted as the higher education institutes. Three million students are currently enrolled in Junior Colleges and Universities, these huge numbers of students made Japan the highest performing Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development country in the world with an astonishing score of 529 in math, science and reading (“Education”, 2018). Japanese universities are thought to be one of the best universities in the world with sixteen of them in Asia’s top hundred best institutes (“QS University Rankings: Asia 2018”, 2018).

In spite of having such a great educational system, Japanese students faced huge pressure from the society, teachers, parents and even from peers for succeeding in their academics. The immense burden on the students, due to the created significance of education has resulted in violence break out in students along with other negative impacts like suicide, cheating, teacher’s assault, and nervous breakdown. Although different international organizations are working in the educational sector of Japan, with some universities like the International University of Japan and United Nations University, students from Japan are also criticized for their lack of creativity especially in art and cultural sensibility that is caused by the limited effect of international educational environment.

Teaching and Teacher Professionalism in UAE

The role of teacher and teaching professionalism is one of the key stakeholders in an upcoming technological and multicultural based classroom. Teachers, now a day cannot go for the easiest way around, now, they have to be more creative, problem-solving, critical-minded and decision makers. Collaboration and communication along with the use of modern technologies, career planning and social responsibilities are the ways teachers have to impart (Warner, 2011). After the adoption of Total Quality Management (TQM), in order to measure and monitor the quality of education, teacher’s excellence has been considered more. Annual school inspections round by ADEC in Abu Dhabi and KHDA in Dubai provides better quality management in educational effectiveness. In order to meet the national goals of “Education 2021”, UAE requires all schools private or public to have the same quality and professionalism at all level. The increased amount of resources for professional development of teachers has been issued over the last few years by the Ministry of Education UAE. Teachers are required to complete a 30 hours long professional development course, as the Ministry of Education is willing to train 10,000 teachers, having federally licensed, within the next five years (Warner & Burton, 2017).

Teaching and Teacher Professionalism in Japan

Japan, hires teachers at prefecture level (state level). Each prefecture consists of multiple municipalities. Teachers are shifted from one school to another, for every three years. This help prefectures in attaining the best out of them, the most unprivileged schools and children can have access to most capable teachers. Similarly, junior teachers have an advantage of working under the supervision of experienced ones. Japanese teachers have the working hour of 1891 hours per annum as per the OECD report of 2015. The longest period of working hour for any teacher in the world. The actual time spends during teaching is less because teachers in Japan spend most of their time in leading extracurricular activities, planning lessons and counseling students.

Teaching is the most prominent and popular profession in Japan. Teachers are paid more than other civil servants. But due to high literacy rates, Japan has an oversupply of teachers. A person can become a teacher on graduating in any one of the teacher education courses. Majority of the teachers in Japan are bachelor’s degree holder. Multiple professional development programs, such as thirty hours of professional development program by MEXT, are mandatory for teachers in order to keep their teaching certificates (“Japan: Teacher and Principal Quality”, 2018).

Education Accountability in UAE

The Gulf countries have significantly agreed on the importance of education in their economic reforms and vision, with much of the reform revolving around the accountability in education. In order to effectively and efficiently achieve its targets of Education “2021”, UAE government has gone through many international programs and tests for benchmarking and examining its education system. The education accountability in UAE is linked with the merging of the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education. A Higher Council for Education and Human Resources was established for better accountability in the educational sector by bringing in all private and public institutions under the control of the ministry. The increased level of accountability form school leaders to teachers has provided with the metrics of assessment of school stakeholders in order to increase the learning capability, strategic development and community engagement (Warner & Burton, 2017). The increased accountability in the education sector in UAE is achieved by executing collaborations and professional developments programs like “Teacher and Educational Leadership Standards (TELS UAE) and Licensing Programme” (“Raising the standard of education”, 2018).

Education Accountability in Japan

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) is the sole responsibility for providing and controlling the educational system of Japan. From defining a national curriculum to setting up schools from refining pay scales to certifying teachers, all the main responsibilities came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. To have greater accountability in the education ministry, funds are allocated to municipal authorities and prefectures. While prefectures control the resources of the schools, municipals are responsible for controlling the daily procedures of schools. Prefectural board and municipals are the ones that provide guidance in terms of management teaching and curriculum. For the accountability of students, the National Assessment of Academic Ability, the Japanese examinations for sixth and nine grades in order to evaluate their science and mathematics are taken. These examination sets help in identifying the weak links in the educational system that need further attention. With the belief that staff is the key for enhancing the achievement of low performing schools into the high ones, the Japanese authority has developed a practice of circulating staffs from one school to another one (“Japan: Governance and Accountability”, 2018).

Education System Policy in UAE

UAE has adopted “Education 2021”, as the education system policy for the progression of education in youths. The mission of the plan is to form a knowledgeable and globally competitive society, that have members from all age and that can meet the future’s market demand. The education system policy of UAE revolves around the ensuring of quality education from pre-school to higher level education, for guaranteeing efficiency in teaching, for providing good governance in the institution and educational system and for providing safe and sound challenging learning environment. Besides these objectives, the education policy of UAE also plans for the increasing enrollment of students for higher education, in order to fulfill the market labor demands, to control the efficiency, transparency, and quality in administrative services according to the international standards of so and to support the culture of scientific innovation and research. The education system policy also adheres to the core values and customs of UAE culture (“Ministry of Education Strategic Plan 2017-2021”, 2018). In short, the education policy in UAE is to provide the members of its society with equal educational opportunities, regardless of the gender and race, to drive the society with technology, innovation, and science considering the cultural values of UAE and human values of peace and tolerance.

Education System Policy in Japan

Article 26, of Japanese constitution set forth the basis of Japan’s educational policy. The statement of the article,

“All people shall have the right to receive an equal education corresponding to their ability, as provided by law. The people shall be obligated to have all boys and girls under their protection receive ordinary education as provided for by law. Such compulsory education shall be free.”

 is self-explanatory. The Basic Act on Education, that was set in effect in March 1947 and that defined the educational system policy of Japan in the view of the article 26, needed to be revised in order to met the advancement in science and technology and changes in lifestyles with significant variations in the surroundings of the children (“Principles Guide Japan’s Educational System”, 2018).

The current education system policy of Japan is based on the measures taken to be in the next five years and on the Educational Visions spanning over the next ten years. The ten years Educational Vision program is to develop a human resource that has the ability to cope with the challenges, and that can support the society against them along with the cultivation of the independence in every child. While the measures taken for five years program are based on the basic policy of horizontal collaboration, vertical acquaintances and expounding the roles of local and national governments in education (“Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education”, 2018).


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