Primary School Years
Enrolment at the primary level is almost universal at 99.2% despite the fact that education in Oman is not compulsory. There has been a steady rate of increase from 89.8% in 2004 to 92.1% in 2007 and 95.3% in 2008. Oman is at the cusp of attaining MDG 2 target by 2015, to achieve universal primary education. In addition to over 1,047 government schools, providing educational services to some 540,332 pupils, the Ministry of Education also has under its supervision 200 private schools, including kindergartens. Education is equitably accessible to students in all regions of the country.
A constraint to ensuring the provision of quality education to children in Oman has been the low enrolment in pre-schools, (13.7% of 4-5 year olds), although the significance of pre-school education on the intellectual development of children is widely recognised. Many children start primary school poorly prepared because they have not had appropriate early childhood development (ECD) care and support.
There has been a steady increase in annual kindergarten growth from 6.7% in 2004 to 30% in 2008, reflecting a demand for pre-school education. However, the large majority of these are in the capital and belong to the private sector, and are therefore not free. The challenge is to facilitate entry to affordable kindergartens to larger numbers of children in all regions. The other challenge to pre-school education is to ensure quality through a well-developed curriculum. An evaluation of the day care/nursery curriculum was conducted in 2008 in collaboration with UNICEF, and the development and production of a manual for nursery workers that teaches the needs of children between six months to three and half years.