DUBAI // A major operator of Indian schools in Asia unveiled plans yesterday to open a new facility in the emirate. The Singapore-based Global Indian Foundation (GIF), which bills itself as the largest network of Indian schools in South East Asia, announced a partnership with the Dubai franchise of Score Plus. The intention is to establish the Global Indian International School (GIIS) of Dubai.
Score Plus, which offers standardised test preparation courses throughout Asia and the Middle East, will own the school. The GIF will oversee teaching. Although the GIF is a charity, the Dubai school is intended to be a profit-making venture. If approval is granted by Dubai's schools regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the new facility could be in operation by April 4.
In its first year, the school would teach pupils up to grade six, using the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations curriculum. It would also offer Montessori-based teaching, a child-centred, alternative educational method. The school would operate the International Baccalaureate diploma programme in future. The partnership is positioning the school, to be housed in a refurbished government building in Mankhool, as an alternative to Dubai Modern High School.
Last year, Dubai Modern said it would raise its fees by 90 per cent over two years to finance its Dh180 million (US$49m) move to a new state-of-the-art campus. When the rise was first announced last December, a parent committee and a 690-member Facebook group was established to fight the increases. In February, the committee surveyed more than 900 parents representing 1,300 pupils. Two thirds said they would look for alternative schooling over the next two years.
"Because of recent happenings, there is a tremendous interest in GIIS," said Maneesh Tripathi, the chief executive and director general of the GIIS in Singapore, alluding to Dubai Modern's fees increase. Richard Forbes, a spokesman for GEMS Education, the parent company of Dubai Modern, said the school had earned a brilliant academic reputation over many years. "GEMS believes the facilities at the new campus are the best of any Indian day-school in the world, so we have no difficulty in welcoming competition into the market.
"The school is full, with enrolments up on last year and 400 new online registrations for next April." Mr Forbes added that inspectors had recently informed the school principal that 67 per cent of Dubai Modern parents had filled out a KHDA questionnaire as part of a school inspection last month. He said results showed that parents were very happy with Dubai Modern and the inspectors told the principal that parent engagement could not have been better.
Kamal Kalwani, the chief executive of Score Plus, indicated that fees at GIIS of Dubai would probably be lower than Dubai Modern's tuition, although he declined to give exact figures. "The school will be positioned as mid-market," he said, adding that it would pay "top dollars" to attract the best teachers. Mr Tripathi said quality of education and instruction were GIIS's top priority. "Wherever we have gone we have changed the landscape," he said.