The Aga Khan Early Learning Centre, Dubai

"The Aga Khan Education Services, a philanthropic agency, will draw on its own extensive experience in many parts of the world to offer broad, holistic, early childhood education on a secular and non-denominational basis at the highest standards of excellence. The objective is to have a curriculum of proven calibre, taught by competent teachers, to help lay strong foundations for a child's continuing educational growth."

His Highness the Aga Khan
The Ismaili Centre Dubai, 2003

Welcome to the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre

The AKELC is an U.K. accredited, non-profit nursery and preschool that has been awarded as Best Nursery in 2018 and 2019.

The Aga Khan Early Learning Centre (AKELC) is located in Oud Metha, Dubai and provides a high-quality early childhood education for children aged 12 months to 4 years through our bilingual (English and Arabic) U.K. curriculum, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The AKELC is a secular and inclusive early learning centre that welcomes children from all nationalities, ethnic groups, religions and abilities.

Highly qualified and experienced multi-lingual staff provide nurturing and responsive care in a purpose-built nursery setting with impressively spacious classrooms, abundance of natural light, two outdoor play areas, a well-stocked library and a large indoor gym area.

The AKELC is accredited by the U.K. National Day Nurseries Association (Level 3 – Exemplary) and has the U.A.E. Jawda Quality Improvement Program (5-star rating). The high quality nursery standards and practices have been recognized through educational awards, including: 2017 Edarabia Parents' Choice Award, 2018 NDNA Nursery of the Year-International award, 2018 Leading Nursery Finalist by Fatima Bin Mubarak Award for Motherhood & Childhood, and 2019 Top Schools Awards Best Nursery.

Overview of the AKELC Nursery

The Aga Khan Early Learning Centre in Dubai is a part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The AKDN is well-known and highly regarded world-wide for supporting early childhood development initiatives across Africa, South and Central Asia.

This purpose-built facility, for young children ages 12 months to 4 years, is located in Oud Metha within the Ismaili Centre Dubai, a building designed to promote cultural, educational and social programmes. For ongoing support, guidance and oversight, AKELC-Dubai draws on the extensive experience of the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES), one of the many agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

The AKELC is an U.K. accredited non-profit and demonstration nursery that provides nursery, preschool and educational programming that follows the highest international standards of excellence.

As a secular, non-denominational institution, its programmes are offered to members of all communities, reflecting AKDN's strong belief in the positive value of pluralism and diversity.

The Centre's curriculum, based on international High Scope practices aligned with the Early Years Foundation Stages framework (EYFS-UK), is:

  • bilingual Arabic/English with an emphasis on nurturing the child's home language,
  • broad in scope, holistic, non-denominational and developmentally responsive,
  • based on well researched approaches to early childhood education,
  • taught by competent early childhood educators,
  • implemented through active participatory learning where children are encouraged to develop knowledge and skills through interactions with the world and the people around them.

Aga Khan Education Services

The Aga Khan Early Learning Centre draws on the extensive experience of the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES).

This global education system currently operates more than 250 schools and educational programmes that provide quality pre-school, primary, secondary and higher secondary education services to students in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

In all of these locations, AKES works to achieve excellence by continually improving its programmes, services and processes. Its mission reflects the belief that access to quality education is perhaps the most important factor in creating a successful future for generations that will have to cope with a rapidly changing environment.

The work of the Aga Khan Education Services includes:

  • The continuing pursuit of excellence in educational practice and management in diverse and challenging settings;
  • Relevant curriculum modules;
  • Child-centred teaching methods;
  • A special emphasis on female education;
  • Commitment to ongoing and regular professional development.

Head of Nursery & Preschool Message

I absolutely love what I do! I have been fortunate enough to work very closely with parents for most of my career as an educator and these memories are a huge part of the reason why I love this field. I bring to the AKELC almost 20 years of experience working with children, educators and parents. It is my goal to continue working with parents as part of our offering to the community to promote meaningful and engaging educational experiences for young children. I also have a special place in my heart for all things language and literacy - it's one of my areas of expertise.

At the AKELC we offer a holistic British Curriculum Nursery and Preschool program for children 12 months – 4 years of age. This includes a Foundation Stage 1 (FS1) program for children 3-4 years that focuses on school readiness and promoting child agency. Young children can make decisions - and important ones too, and providing children with choices is an empowering enabler for learning. As a result, children become responsible, capable, independent, and confident learners.

We recognize the period of early childhood as an important life stage and thus hold ourselves to high standards of education and care. We are proud of our accomplishments in this regard and continue to work hard to grow and improve on what we offer.

We celebrate recent recognition by Which School Advisor's Top School Awards as the Best Nursery in the UAE (2019-2020) and international accreditation by the UK National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) again in 2020, and recognition as the "International Nursery of the Year" (2018) by the leading national charity for childcare quality in the UK.

We work to nurture creativity, child agency, and learning dispositions that enable children to believe in themselves, that they can learn anything. I want children to feel good not just about their accomplishments, but their efforts as well. In this, it is nurturing the belief for each child that they can do more to try to accomplish a goal whether it's finishing a puzzle, lacing a bead or learning to ride a bike. In all of this, we work patiently with children scaffolding their knowledge and skills to prepare them for the transition to school.

Our Nursery classrooms are unusually large, bright have a lot of natural light. This is what pretty much all parents tell me during a tour. Alcoves for small group learning, a school library, a full size indoor gym and generous outdoor areas offer alternate spaces for children to learn and connect with their peers. Parents also love being a part of a community and we work hard to support parents in their role through formal and informal connects. I love facilitating our monthly Parent Chats where we meet and explore topics of interest such as literacy, numeracy, routines and challenges with parenting.

I salute you as your child's first teacher and we'd love to work with you to provide the best education for your child during these formative years. Come for a tour and let's talk about what you're looking for in your search for a Nursery.

See you soon!

Marva Headley

Aims of AKELC & Resource Centre

The AKELC is open daily from 7 am to 5 pm and provides nursery, preschool and educational programming that follows the highest international standards of excellence.

The Centre has the capacity to serve approximately 100 children ages 12 months to 4 years and operates year round, with three academic terms, two holiday programmes and an 8-week summer holiday programme. The Centre's secular, bilingual (English/Arabic) curriculum is offered to children and families of all communities, reflecting AKDN's strong belief in the positive value of pluralism and diversity.

Aims of the Resource Centre (AKELRC)

The Aga Khan Early Learning Resource Centre (AKELRC) has been developed as an Early Childhood Development (ECD) Professional Development Resource and Demonstration Centre to serve as a technical hub for AKES Early Learning Resource Centres in Central Asia, India and Pakistan. The aim is for the AKELRC to be a provider of accredited and internationally recognized professional development for ECD educators. The AKELRC is a key partner and technical provider for other AKDN ECD programmes and country level strategic plans.

Specific goals for the AKELRC include: (i) to develop curriculum guidelines, professional development options and career pathways, Professional Development modules/courses, facilitator materials and resources for use by the wider AKES / AKDN ECD network (ii) to deliver courses for ECD leaders and the training of trainers (TOT) for all AKES ECD initiatives (iii) to ensure quality assurance of all AKES ECD units through tracking of baseline and yearly Global Guidelines Assessment (GGA) data and the impact of improvement plans to reach best practice goals, (iv) to oversee the transformation of the nursery/ preschool into an accredited demonstration Centre (v) to guide research projects and (vi) to host international ECD conferences.

The mission is to offer broad, holistic early childhood education on secular and non-denominational basis that demonstrates internationally recognized standards of excellence.

Vision, Mission and Philosophy

The vision for the AKELC is to provide a strong foundation for children's continuing educational growth and lifelong learning.

Early childhood principles that support the AKELC vision and mission include:

  • Active Learning
    Children learn best when they have opportunities to explore the world around them.
  • Problem Solving
    Children develop this life skill in their early years when they are actively involved in play that is supported by adults.
  • Independence
    Children benefit from opportunities in their environment that encourage decision-making and choices.
  • Communication
    Children need opportunities to talk about their experiences and build trusting relationships with the adults in their life.
  • Multilingualism
    A multilingual approach to language development supports future academic success.

More about the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre, Dubai