DUBAI // Parents and schools in Dubai are to sign new legally binding contracts in an effort to cut the number of disputes.
Schools will be required to specify their policies on fee payment, refunds and admissions, attendance and punctuality, holiday periods, health and safety, and school transport.
In return, parents must provide schools with accurate medical, psychological and educational assessment records of their children, and agree dates for paying school fees.
The documents also contain procedures for resolving disputes and details of how schools and parents can appeal against decisions.
The new contracts will be introduced as a pilot project at six private schools for the 2013-2014 academic year. If they are a success the scheme could be extended to some of Dubai's other 153 private schools, which teach 15 different curriculums to 225,000 pupils.
Experts at Dubai's education regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, believe the new contracts will reduce the number of disputes between parents and schools.
"Through our work we realised that the reasons behind many of the disputes … were the same," said Amal Bel Hasa of the KHDA. "We also realised that schools which had clearly outlined contracts experienced fewer disputes with parents.
"By introducing this unified contract we are hoping to provide a better understanding for parents of their rights and duties and thus reduce disputes."
The schools remain free to decide their policies, but the contract is aimed at ensuring that both parties are clear about what those policies are.
At present, private schools in Dubai are free to create their own contracts, many of which cover only basic details, with little clarity on the responsibilities or duties of each party.
KHDA believes that by introducing a single, standard contract, disputes between schools and parents can be greatly reduced.
"A detailed list of terms and conditions will be beneficial to both schools and parents, enabling them to fully understand expectations and responsibilities," said Ms Bel Hasa.
The contract terms were designed according to international standards but take into account local requirements, she said, and KHDA consulted extensively with the schools and the parents.
The six schools taking part in the project are Dubai Modern Education School, Al Ittihad Private School Al Mamzar, Al Ittihad Private School Jumeirah, School of Modern Skills. Greenwood International School and American Academy in Al Mizhar.
The schools teach nearly 10,000 pupils, about 80 per cent of whom are Emirati.
"The idea is to make this contract compulsory for the six schools in phase one for the students registration for the academic year 2013-2014," said Ms Bel Hasa.
Abir Mohammed, a mother of two girls in the fourth and eight grades, said contracts were less important to her than how the school management deals with pupils.
"For me it is just a technicality which is not really needed if there is a good relationship between the parents and the school management. I care less about contracts and more how we communicate together," said Ms Mohammed.