GCC student numbers to hit 11.6m by 2016
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The total number of students in the GCC is expected to rise to 11.6 million by 2016, more than a million more than last year, a new report has said.
Alpen Capital in its GCC Education Industry study said higher demand for education will also propel growth in the number of schools in the region.
By 2016, the region is likely to have a total of 51,450 schools; out of which 20.6 percent will be private schools.
It also identified a "mismatch" in the GCC between skills taught to graduates and the requirements of the local labour market.
Alpen said growth in the total number of students in the pre-primary and tertiary segments is expected to outpace the growth rate of primary and secondary segment.
Its report said the pre-primary segment will see a growth rate of 11.2 percent, followed by tertiary segment at 4.8 percent, while primary and secondary sectors will grow at 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent respectively.
Total enrolment in pre-primary, primary and secondary education segments in private schools will grow at an annual rate of 10.2 percent, it added.
Sameena Ahmad, managing director at Alpen Capital, said: "All segments of the GCC education sector is poised for consistent growth in the future driven by growing focus on quality education, increasing population, increased private sector participation and strategic plans of various governments in the region to improve the education system through reform programmes.
Sanjay Vig, managing director at Alpen, added: "The GCC governments realize that education is a pivotal pillar in the development of any nation and have undertaken several initiatives to enhance the quality and reach of education.
"It is therefore no surprise that the sector has attracted a number of private investors in the last decade. Although the private school market across the GCC is highly fragmented, it still offers significant opportunities for new investments and ample room for consolidation for existing players."
Alpen said an increasing population base coupled with an expanding expatriate population is expected to drive demand for education across the region.
Increasing income levels and growing awareness about education are also expected to drive demand for private education despite it involving higher costs.
Alpen Capital also expects technology to play a key role in improving the quality and teaching methods of the education in the future. The region is witnessing increasing use of technology in the education sector, it said.
However, Alpen noted that a shortage of skilled teachers continues to be major challenge for the GCC education sector.
It added that enrolment in tertiary education in the GCC still lags behind the global average, primarily reflecting the preference of students to pursue higher education abroad.
"It is also a reflection of a mismatch between skills taught to the graduates and requirements of the local labour market. The GCC region has witnessed a lack of opportunity for fresh graduates mainly due to lack of tie-ups between the education sector and the private companies in the region," the report said.