Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 concerning child rights, also known as Wadeema's Law (PDF, 250 KB), stresses that all children must be provided with appropriate living standards, access to health services, education, equal opportunities in essential services and facilities without any kind of discrimination. The law protects children against all forms of negligence, exploitation, physical and psychological abuses.
In addition, smoking in public and private vehicles and indoor facilities where children are present is also prohibited under the law. Violators will be subject to penalties as set out by the law.
The law allows childcare specialists to remove children from their homes against parents' wishes and without judicial permission in cases of imminent danger. In less severe cases, specialists may intervene by visiting the child regularly, providing social services and mediating a solution between the family and the child.
Those who put children in danger, abandon them, neglect them, leave them without supervision, do not enroll them in school or register them upon their birth will be subject to a prison sentence or a fine or both. The law applies to all children up to the age of 18.
As per the statistics published on the website of Ministry of Community Development, the number of nurseries in the UAE in 2014 was 497; they had 35,552 children registered.
After the restructuring of the federal government in early 2016, licensing nurseries lies with Ministry of Education. The childcare provider should be licensed to function so in accordance with the prevailing laws. A number of procedures and legislations are adopted to ensure the highest quality of nurseries, provided they are equipped in a manner that produces a pleasant setting satisfying the needs of children and stimulating their physical, intellectual, emotional and social development.
In addition, the childcare building should be a safe and healthy setting that comprises ample indoor and outdoor areas proportional to the number and ages of children. The provider must ensure safety and security against risks both indoor and outdoor and that all staff are fully aware of the safety and security requirements and procedures.
Children's health and nutrition are other aspects that the provider should maintain by taking all necessary precautions to prevent contamination and the spread of diseases, with appropriate measures for dealing with injuries and sick children.
Nurseries in public offices
Many new mothers with government jobs are required to return to work when their children are as young as six weeks old, prompting many to resign or take long-term leave.
In 2006, the UAE Cabinet addressed this issue by ordering all federal and local government departments with more than 50 women Emirati staff or where the women Emirati staff collectively have more than 20 children, to offer on-site nurseries.
The directive to establish on-site nurseries aims to support working women and lead them to be more productive by providing them the comfort of having their children in a facility close by which is safe and offers a nurturing environment.
Regulations concerning nurseries
- Federal Law No. 5 of 1983 on Child Care Nurseries
- Ministerial Decision No. 1 of 1989 for the implementation of the Federal Law No. 5 issued in 1983 on Child Care Nurseries
- Council of Minister Decision No. 19 of 2006 regarding the establishment of child care centres in Government departments and public institutions for the provision of care for the children of female workers
Education for Emiratis is free in public schools, colleges and universities. Article 17 of the UAE's Constitution and Article 1 of Federal Law No. 11 of 1972 concerning Compulsory Education provide that education is compulsory at primary stages and free of charge at all stages for citizens in the UAE.
Aiming to bring the compulsory school-leaving age more in line with many other advanced countries across the world, the UAE Cabinet approved a new law in July 2012. This law makes it compulsory for Emirati children to start schooling at the age of 6 and remain in school until they have completed Grade 12 or reach the age of 18, whichever occurs first.
Read more about education in the UAE.
Other Initiatives for children
There are many initiatives in the UAE for children; such as the one to involve them in designing the logo of National Programme for Happiness and Positivity. This initiative aims at enhancing the creative abilities of the students and involving them in the national campaign. Children from many schools that support governmental efforts for promoting positive behaviour among students had participated in this. KidX is another initiative. It targets children and adolescents through an interactive digital environment using games and virtual reality technologies to raise children’s awareness of the UAE government.
Updated on 08 Sep 2019