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Roundtable with parents and Dubai schools proves an education

Parents face nightmare with school admissions

Dubai schools justify the need for the 'infamous' 500 dirham processing fee...

March 26, 2013 6:09 by

As Kipp pointed out, it’s not that parents are happy to pay those fees even when they realise how slim their admission chances are, it’s that there’s no choice involved in the matter. After all, it’s a monopoly. The problems parents have in Dubai are relatively unique. In other countries, there’s a standard pyramid of hierarchy (not necessarily in terms of quality); beginning with state and public schools and moving up to private and more prestigious schools. In Dubai, that pyramid is inverted.

Upon conclusion of this subject, the room (at least as far as the parents were concerned) were unanimous in saying that the 500 dirham processing fee should be made refunded by the school should they fail to provide a place for the child while the schools said it was a necessary fee to pay for their staff’s time and effort to either process your application or assess your child.

In the Womb

This has been repeated over and over again and yet Kipp suspects that many still mistake it for an overstatement or a joke, but the fact is that many mothers in Dubai actually need to express interest or even pencil in their child on a school’s waiting list while it’s still in the womb. Worrying about finding a school precedes finding a reliable brand of diapers.

In fact, the Head Teacher at Horizon school said today that she had to note her interest in admission, while she was still pregnant. And funnily enough, this is at at a school she works for. Ambareen Musa, who is still currently struggling to find a school for her daughter, is waiting to hear back from four different ones – most of which have told her that it will be months before she even knows if there’s a chance.

We know this is the norm here, but the real question should be? Does that make it right? Is this something that expatriate parents have to simply ‘live with’ or is a higher intervention needed?

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  1. Shambavi Rajagopal on March 27, 2013 12:52 pm

    Good reporting. I would however agree with Mr Jonathan Price that the criteria for which the school has been applauded must be considered before seeking admission.
    Though we live in a country where job guarantees are not there and most teachers are females on Husband’s visas, we should seek stability in teaching. At least the teacher should be committed to work the whole academic year unless there is an emergency. Many years back Kuwait made it compulsory for teachers to be on school visa so at least the academic requirement of the child for one year was complete. KHDA should try and give those assurances to parents and for a person who studied in 13 different schools in 12 years of education due to parents’ transfer, all I can say is School is only the beginning of education and not the whole education. Mr. Ravi Thomas , Principal of Emirates National school, Sharjah, said once, We are so busy preparing our children for a future that we forget to let them enjoy the present.

  2. M. Aldalou on March 27, 2013 3:05 pm

    Hey Shambavi, I really appreciate you taking the time to leave that comment.

    I think you’re absolutely right and Thomas’s quote really encapsulates the mistakes that schools and teachers can make.

    We hope the KHDA does step in

  3. Alia on April 4, 2013 7:07 am

    We have recently moved from London and one of our children was born prematurely and was diagnosed with a mild form of diplegia which has resulted in him not being able to ambulate independently . He is 3 years of age and besides the walking issue he is doing fine and is a keen pupil at his current nursery. We have however been extremely frustrated upon arriving to Dubai to notice how many schools do not accommodate for students with disabilities and as such are really at a loss at what to do in terms of providing him with the proper educational environment in order for him to thrive and learn.
    We applied for seven schools and paid the 500 dirhams fee to find out during our follow up that 6 of those schools do not have the facilities for kids with physical disabilities.
    In my opinion, I think KHDA should impose certain criteria on schools before giving them the licence to open and current schools should make the necessary adjustments for their premises to accommodate for students with physical challenges.
    Most schools in UAE discriminate against students with physical disabilities.

  4. M. Aldalou on April 4, 2013 9:39 am

    Hey Alia, thank you so much for posting this comment and may I say it’s also very brave and honest of you. Yeah, this is a subject that was (unfortunately) only briefly touched upon during the round table but it is definitely something the KHDA needs to enforce soon, because what happened with you and your son is utterly unacceptable in my view.


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