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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

Chaos of waiting

One of the more prominent points brought up during the discussion was the lack of proper organisation when it comes to waiting lists that schools refer to. For one, the school representatives present agreed – while we all nodded our heads in unison – that as a step towards transparency, the KHDA needs to enforce a regulation whereby waiting lists should be digitally published and made publicly available to parents.

We all agreed that many schools in the emirate are aware of their limited seating and yet still take applications into consideration. They pocket the processing fees all the while knowing that the chances of admission are slim to none.

In conclusion, the idea of the KHDA stepping in with a regulatory system is an appealing one. For now, they regulate the Educational Cost Index, govern schools on fee hikes and perform inspections (which we all also agreed should be random and not planned as it negates the purpose). What parents would like to see happen is for the authority to set a specific period (12 months for instance) before an academic year where only then can applications be accepted.

When a parent decides on a school a year or two in advance, the last thing they need to hear is that they’re still two or three years too late. Many schools in Dubai are currently fully reserved until the academic year 2017 and some of the guest representatives today said that that could partly relate to the ratings that schools receive from the KHDA.

Only 11 schools in Dubai were rated as ‘outstanding’ last year, and naturally, all parents want to send their children there. Jonathan Price (Jebel Ali Primary School) stresses that parents need to stop relying on this one label to make up their minds because the criteria upon which a certain school is ‘applauded’ might not be relevant for you. A ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’ school may have received that rating based on facilities that a parent would deem unimportant but are ‘outstanding’ in other areas.

Ultimately, while we wait and hope for the KHDA to regulate this chaotic process of admissions, it’s vital for parents to do their own research, read through the reports and decide what’s best for them (and their child).

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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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