GCC Education Sector: A Growing Opportunity


Education is associated with numerous positive effects on quality of life, both on individual and state levels. Government Cooperation Council (GCC) has successfully facilitated an ongoing reform of education aimed at increasing its quality, which has already yielded positive results. However, in order to retain the benefits of the reform in the long term, it is necessary to make the observed improvements sustainable. The desired effect can be achieved through cooperation between private and state institutions and communication of long-term implications to stakeholders.

Sustainability Issues

The first issue that constitutes a threat to sustainability of education in GCC is the current budgeting model. The main bulk of investors is comprised of the local governments. From a sustainability perspective, such an approach creates a considerable burden for stakeholders. Another major issue is the lack of uniformity in financing from country to country (Ardent Advisory & Accounting 2015). This method decreases the predictability of funding and, as a result, introduces the possibility of budget shortages. Finally, the demand for large numbers of teachers in the field dilutes the quality of teaching (Barber, Mourshed & Whelan 2007). As a result, the quality of education in GCC may lose its sustainable properties and gradually deteriorate in the long run.


Currently, the amount of funds allocated to education demonstrates a steady increase. The funds received in the sector total at $77 billion, 1 billion more compared to previous year and almost a 50% improvement on a five-year scale. However, the allocation of funds differs per country, ranging from below 10% for Bahrain and Oman to above 20% for the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The trend is consistent with the steady increase in number of students in the GCC observed in pre-primary, primary, secondary, and tertiary education (Ardent Advisory & Accounting 2015).

Latest Outcomes

Despite the existence of issues, the situation is changing for the better. Latest data indicates an increasing interest in education domain from private investors. The main reason for this is the pressing need for skilled and educated students. Various incentives from governments further enhance the effect. In addition, there is an indication that private K-12 schools are in increasing demand both among national and expatriate families (Ardent Advisory & Accounting 2015). Available data suggests that the demand is being acknowledged by some actors, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It is also necessary to recognize the impact of increasing welfare, large proportion of the school-attending population, and government incentives on the observed outcomes.

Triple Bottom Line

From the triple bottom line perspective, two main groups can be identified in the people category. The first one includes teachers, whose benefits will include better resourcing options. The second one is the local community, whose benefits stem from access to better education. The planet aspect is fulfilled primarily through the capacity of education systems for raising awareness and delivering relevant information necessary for contributing to environmental movement. Finally, the profit element can be manifested in the form of an increase of country’s GDP typically observed as a result of increased education quality level (Posthumus 2013). However, it is important to understand that due to its magnitude, this is a long-term effect.

Economic Effects

Economic Effects

Admittedly, specific economic effects of education quality are difficult to determine. Nevertheless, available studies suggest a correlation between the availability of skilled workforce and country’s economic performance (Khanna 2016). By extension, it is possible to relate workforce skills to the quality of education. In addition, a number of indirect positive effects can be identified. First, high-quality labour market is known to attract investors. Second, it promotes technological innovation, ensuring long-term growth. Finally, the combined effect of the said factors attains self-sustainable properties by enabling investment opportunities from the state.

Social Effects

In addition to economic benefits, high quality of education has a number of positive social effects. First, it contributes to affirming social identity and enables social trust. Second, studies indicate that high-quality education correlates strongly with several quality-of-life determinants, including health, motivation, and satisfaction. Importantly, the low educational level has a respective negative impact, which is recognized by the impacted individuals (ESRC 2014). The effects are reliably detectable throughout individual’s lives.

Environmental Effects

Finally, it is possible to identify several areas in which high-quality education creates a positive environmental effect. First, education creates awareness of issues pertinent to the field. Second, it equips individuals with knowledge for participating in environmental activities. Third, it establishes attitudes that provide ethical and moral motivation. Fourth, it develops skills and proficiencies for developing solutions to existing environmental problems. Finally, it increases sensitivity necessary for active participation (EPA n.d.). Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that quality of education is among the main determinants of environmental activities.

Example Cases

The UAE is one of the most prominent GCC examples of education sustainability improvement. The country has already embraced the private education model, ensuring the presence of private educational establishments. Education system enjoys support from government in the form of grants and subsidies (Ardent Advisory & Accounting 2015). Finally, expat families demonstrate high participation in the education process.

Another example is Qatar, whose overall quality of education was assessed as the best in GCC in 2014. The country’s current main advantage is strong financial support from state budget, which has demonstrated a steady annual growth of approximately 9 percent in the period of 2010-2015. Strong competitive economy (second place in the Middle East) and suitable demographics further increase its long-term growth potential in terms of education quality (Ardent Advisory & Accounting 2015).


The first apparent conclusion is the importance of funding for achieving desirable results. Thus, it is recommended to establish uniform funding models to reduce barriers to education quality. Second, it is evident that the co-existence of state and private educational institutions offers additional benefits. Therefore, these entities are recommended to cooperate for mutual benefits rather than compete in a counterproductive way. Finally, the information above suggests that improving educational quality makes sense from economic, social, and environmental standpoint, which makes it a reasonable priority rather than an obligation. It is thus recommended to communicate its long-term implications to stakeholders to facilitate participation.

Reference List

Ardent Advisory & Accounting 2015, GCC education sector: a growing opportunity. Web.

Barber, M, Mourshed, M & Whelan, F 2007, Improving education in the Gulf. Web.

EPA n.d., What is environmental education?. Web.

ESRC 2014, The wellbeing effect of education. Web.

Khanna, G 2016, What’s the economic benefit of education?. Web.

Posthumus, M 2013, ‘The Education Triple Bottom Line’, Colleagues, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 5-7.

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