Critical Document Analysis of Equivalency Decree 4443 (2001) and Decree 848 (2018): An examination of equivalency criteria for upper secondary school qualifications in the UAE

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
The changing face of education and the unprecedented number of people studying and working in countries other than their home countries have necessitated an international interest in classifying and mapping of qualifications. In addition to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) levels developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), each county has developed its own criteria or qualification framework to classify qualifications and map out their equivalency levels. In the UAE, Decree 4443 was issued in 2001 to specify equivalency criteria for qualifications earned in the ever increasing number of private schools; a necessity since a majority of Emiratis is opting to study in such schools. After nearly 20 years of implementation, Decree 4443 can no longer serve its purpose for a number of reasons, including its numerous shortcomings and the rapid advancements happening on the curricular fronts in international schools. The much-anticipated Decree 848 was issued late in 2018 to replace Decree 4443. Through critical analysis of both documents, namely Decree 4443 and Decree 848, this qualitative research highlights aspects where Decree 848 falls short of fulfilling its promise of a more progressive decree with criteria that are more equitable, inclusive and aligned to international curricula than its predecessor, namely Decree 4443.
equivalency decree, International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED), secondary school qualifications, United Arab Emirates (UAE)