Private sector 'must boost investment in education'
Sharjah, February 26, 2013
The private sector needs to invest more to keep pace with increasing demand for higher education in the region, according to experts who took part in the just-concluded International Education Show (IES) in Sharjah.
The IES is a joint initiative of the UAE Ministry of Education and Expo Centre Sharjah and supported by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
It was opened by Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah on February 20 and it ran until February 22. The three-day show became a meeting point for the academic community and several stakeholders in the country’s higher education sector.
“The private sector needs to better tap into the growing need for quality education and commitment by regional governments to create infrastructure and promote innovation in the sphere of higher education," remarked Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, the director-general of Expo Centre Sharjah.
He was speaking at the expo opening ceremony in the presence of Humaid Al Qutami, Minister of Education, Ahmed Mohammed Al Midfa, the chairman of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other government dignitaries.
"The governments have already initiated various policies and regulations to attract higher private sector participation and this is throwing up a number of investment opportunities within this sector," he added.
The growing demand for higher education — on the back of rising population, coupled with growing number of expatriates — was clearly visible during the show, which attracted 15,450 visitors, up 9 per cent compared to last year’s 14,200.
The surge in interest was so high that on the first day, 26 per cent more visitors flocked to the show.
Improved standards of living in the GCC countries due to increasing urbanization and rise in income levels have also influenced the attitude of people towards education, leading to improvement in gross enrolment ratios across primary and secondary levels in the member countries, according to a recent market study.
The number of tertiary students, the main driver of higher education, is expected to grow at a highest CAGR of 5.5 per cent in the GCC and will eclipse the projected rise in overall number of students of 1.8 per cent, which will reach 11.3 million by 2020, the study stated.
The share of tertiary education students to the overall number of pupils is expected to rise from 11 per cent in 2010 to 15 per cent in 2020, it added.
According to Midfa, the private sector participation in the education sector is pretty low now. "Better private sector participation will help in facilitating a major transition in the quality of services provided and in global competitiveness, thus offering better choices and opportunities to a rising number of national and expatriate students," he observed.
Midfa revealed that the move by Expo Centre Sharjah to better target the Indian population in the country also paid rich dividends. In order to expand the reach of the International Education Show, Expo Centre Sharjah tied up with AFAIRS Exhibitions & Media of India to bring the Great India Education Fair to the UAE.
The fair also offered spot counselling by experts, introduction to career options, a series of seminars on ‘Studying in India’ and further information on Indian institutions and educational procedures, he added.-TradeArabia News Service