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UAE education regulator called in over 940 complaints last year

In an attempt to reduce such disputes the authority recently announced a unified school-parent contract it hopes to introduce to every private school in Dubai.

DUBAI // Education regulators dealt with 940 disputes between schools and parents in the past academic year.

About a third of the complaints to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) between September 2012 and June related to school administration.

Fee disputes accounted for 283 complaints, and teachers’ behaviour and pupils’ admission were also significant areas of conflict. Other issues included pupils’ safety, behaviour, transport and school facilities.

In an attempt to reduce the problems the authority recently announced a unified school-parent contract it hopes to introduce to every private school in Dubai.

“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 new contract will be introduced as a pilot project at six private schools, which between them account for 10,000 pupils, for the 2013-2014 academic year. If successful it will be extended to the other 153 private schools, which teach 15 different curriculums to 225,000 children.

The legally binding contract requires schools 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 contract outlines an appeal procedure for parents and pupils to follow when they come into conflict with schools to ensure their “right to fair and impartial decisions affecting their educational experience”.

Parents must first meet the person or teacher directly involved in the dispute. If the problem remains unresolved, they must then go to the head of school. If the issue is still not resolved they must write an official letter to the board of governors, and a committee will look into their concern

Such a committee must include a teacher, a parent, a school leader and a member of the board of governors, none of whom should be connected to the original complaint. The committee has 10 days to investigate and issue a written report.

Only after the committee issues its report can the parent take the case further to the KHDA through contacting its Compliance and Resolution Commission.

The KHDA has the “right to uphold or repeal any and all decisions. Its final decisions are binding to both the school and parents”, according to the contract.

wissa@thenational.ae

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