PRIVATIZING EDUCATION IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: DOES IT ADDRESS QUESTIONS OF EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS?

A. Mansour

United Arab Emirates University (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Education as a public policy issue is characterized by two features: it is both a semipublic good and a positive externality. Being a public good means that even perfect markets may fail to provide it effectively. As a positive externality the market will fail to provide it in sufficient quantities to satisfy the criteria of efficiency and equity. By effectiveness we mean “quality of education” as it refers to the content of education and its delivery and by “efficiency of education” we refer to the mode of allocating the resources of society to maximize the total amount of social surplus received by individuals in a society. Equity on the other hand refers to the distribution of the good of education to benefit all segments of society. Being a welfare state and lacking in highly skilled manpower, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is deeply concerned with education which occupies a high priority status in the agenda of its public policy. It represents one of three pillars of its long-term strategic planning: infrastructure, health and education. In reforming its educational system to achieve both quality (effectiveness) and efficiency the UAE government has adopted a privatization approach in its wider sense. The objective of this paper is to provide an analysis of the pros and cons of that process.